The more you walk the lower the risk of premature death, says new study

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

The more you walk, the lower the risk of premature death. What's more, this effect can be seen even when you do less than 5,000 steps, results from an international study led by Professor Maciej Banach from the Medical University of Lodz show.

The paper on the topic has been published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

According to the authors of the study, this means that the number of steps we walk every day that can bring health benefits is lower than previously thought. Currently, it is most often stated that in order to gain health benefits, one should walk at least 10,000 steps per day. However, there have been reports that this number may be lower.

Scientists led by Professor Maciej Banach from the Medical University of Lodz confirmed this in an analysis of 226,889 people, participants in 17 different studies conducted around the world. They were all initially in good health. Their health was then monitored for about seven years.

The results indicate that the more the subjects walked, the greater the health benefits were; even if they reached 20,000 steps per day, the benefits continued to increase.

In addition, about 4,000 steps a day were associated with a reduced risk of death from various causes, and less than 2,400 steps per day - with a decrease in the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases. The risk of death decreased significantly with an additional 500 steps (by 7 percent) or a thousand steps (by 15 percent). In people aged 60 and over, who walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps per day, the risk of death was reduced by 42%. In turn, in the group under 60, people who walked 7 to 13 thousand steps had a 49 percent lower risk of death.

'Our study confirms that the more you walk, the better. This applies to both men and women, regardless of age; regardless of whether you live in a temperate, subtropical or circumpolar climate, or in a region on the border of different climatic zones,’ says Professor Maciej Banach, who is also an assistant professor at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA).

The authors of the study say that there is strong scientific evidence that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and shorten life. According to estimates, more than a quarter of the world's population is not sufficiently physically active. This applies more often to women and residents of wealthier countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), insufficient physical activity is the fourth leading cause of mortality worldwide. It is associated with 3.2 million deaths a year.

'In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs for various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, we should always emphasize that lifestyle changes, including diet and physical activity, which was the main topic of our analysis, can be at least as the same, and even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging life,’ says Professor Banach.

He believes that further research is needed to clarify, among other things, whether the same benefits are obtained with a more intense type of exercise, such as running a marathon or participating in an Ironman triathlon, and in people with other health problems. 'However, it seems that, as in the case of pharmacological therapies, we should also think about personalization in the case of lifestyle changes,’ he says.

PAP - Science in Poland, Joanna Morga

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