The practice of physical exercises is essential for a healthier life. And even the habit of walking can prevent numerous diseases. According to a new study, reaching approximately 10,000 steps a day is enough to reduce the risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and premature death.
The discovery made by researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the University of Southern Denmark, published in the journals JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurologyalso revealed that a faster pace of steps, such as a brisk walk, has even more benefits.
Emmanuel Stamatakis, a specialist in physical activity and lifestyle at the University of Sydney, reports in a statement that people are now in the habit of tracking steps, due to the popularity of fitness trackers and apps. However, many do not think about the rhythm of their steps.
“The take-home message here is that for health benefits, people should not only focus on hitting 10,000 steps a day, but also on walking faster,” said Matthew Ahmadi, a researcher at the University’s Charles Perkins Center. of Sydney and the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the same institution.
According to the study, to have these benefits it is not necessary to reach the maximum number established. After two thousand steps, the risks of diseases can already decrease.
Through a population-based study, the scientists relied on data from 78,500 UK adults aged between 40 and 79 from the UK Biobank. Participants who agreed to collaborate with the study had been in routine medical follow-up for seven years.
During a one-week period, subjects used a wrist accelerometer to measure physical activity. A minimum period of 3 days was established, including a weekend day and monitoring during sleep periods.
From there, this information was linked to participants’ health records through various data sources and records, including hospital records, primary care records, and cancer and death records. Document-based morbidity and mortality were verified through October 2021. Data analyzes were performed during March 2022.
The researchers point out that the studies are observational, meaning they cannot show direct cause and effect. However, the results show strong and consistent associations at the population level.
The findings indicated that, after 2,000 steps, the risk of premature death can be reduced by between 8% and 10%. As the number increases, the benefit is even greater. For those who reached 3,800 steps, the risk of dementia was reduced by 25%.
However, 9,800 steps was considered ideal by scientists, for those who want to reduce their risk of dementia from all causes by 50%. Similar associations were observed for cardiovascular disease and cancer incidence.
Step intensity or a faster pace showed beneficial associations for all outcomes (dementia, heart disease, cancer, and premature death) in addition to total daily steps.
“Research from these studies could inform the first formal step-based physical activity guidelines and help develop effective public health programs aimed at preventing chronic disease,” comments Stamatakis.
Ahmadi explains that the size and purpose of this wrist-tracking study make this the most significant evidence on the subject to date. In other words, science says that reaching approximately 10,000 steps a day is the sweet spot for health benefits and that walking faster is associated with additional benefits.
“Doing more research on the long-term use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily stepping,” concludes the expert.