Walking speed 'more important' than hitting 10,000 steps per day

·2-min read

Taking 10,000 steps a day is often touted as a good way to maintain fitness levels.

Previously, researchers have reported that there is a lowered risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer, and death among those achieving 10,000 steps a day.

But in new studies released by the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark this week, experts claimed that a faster stepping pace like a power walk showed benefits above and beyond what the number of steps achieved.

"The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster," said Dr Matthew Ahmadi, while Associate Professor Borja del Pozo Cruz added: "For less active individuals, our study also demonstrates that as low as 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25 per cent."

The researchers used data from UK Biobank to connect step count data from 78,500 U.K. adults aged 40 to 79 years with health outcomes seven years on.

Participants wore a wrist accelerometer to measure physical activity over a period of one week.

Going forward, the team hope the use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with the intensity of walking or running.

"Step count is easily understood and widely used by the public to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps, but rarely do people think about the pace of their steps," noted Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis. "Findings from these studies could inform the first formal step-based physical activity guidelines and help develop effective public health programmes aimed at preventing chronic disease."

Full study results have been published in JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurology.