Total daily steps, not step intensity, offer more benefits

In the journals

Published: July, 2020

Don't be discouraged if you're not a quick walker. A new study suggests that total daily steps — and not how many steps you take per minute — are related to a lower risk of death. The results were published in the March 24/31, 2020, issue of JAMA.

Researchers examined data from 4,840 people, average age 57, who were involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The participants wore an accelerometer — a device that measures movement, including the number of steps taken per minute — for about 14 hours a day for an average of 5.7 days. The people were then followed for 10 years.

The results showed that compared with taking 4,000 daily steps, taking 8,000 to 12,000 steps per day was associated with lower death rates during the study period, including from cancer and heart disease. However, the researchers also found that among the high step takers, a greater steps-per-minute rate did not significantly lower their risk any further.

The authors noted that additional research is needed to explore this association. Still, it appears that the primary focus should be on getting in enough daily steps, not the speed of those steps.

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