Taking 5,000 steps a day can increase life expectancy

Caroline Allen
Contributor
It's recommended that we walk 10,000 steps a day, but new research suggests it's not essential for longer lives. [Photo: Getty]

We’ve spent a long time believing that walking 10,000 steps a day is the key to a healthier life.

A new study has revealed that we might not need to walk quite as much as we thought, though.

The study has found that older women can increase their life expectancy by clocking up less than half of the target on a daily basis.

Female pensioners who took just 4,400 steps per day had a lower risk of dying than those taking 2,700.

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The risk of death kept decreasing the more steps the women took each day, but levelled off at 7,500.

This suggests that those walking 7,500 steps a day will reap the same benefits of those walking 10,000 steps a day.

Most wearable devices are automatically programmed to encourage us to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Although there’s no disagreement about how good daily exercise is for us, there hasn’t been that much research into the specific amount.

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The findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, aims to shed some light on the 10,000 mark, a target that many people find daunting.

Professor I-Min Lee, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US, said: “We find that even a modest increase in steps taken is tied to significantly lower mortality in older women.”

“Our study adds to a growing understanding of the importance of physical activity for health, clarifies the number of steps related to lower mortality and amplifies the message: Step more - even a little more is helpful.”

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A total of 16,741 women took part in the study using a device to track their steps. The average age of those involved was 72.

The participants were followed for an average of more than four years, during which time 504 women died.

It confirmed that those who walked an average of 4,400 steps a day were at a 41 per cent lower risk of death.

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