This is the number of steps you need per day to reduce the risk of “dying of any cause”

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The medical community has been cautioning the public against sedentary lifestyles for some time now. In the last two decades, prolonged inactivity has been linked to cancer, depression, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even degenerative bone illnesses.

Spearheading these finds, are two new studies scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2020.

The preliminary analysis derived between 2011 and 2014, concluded that older Americans who achieve moderate physical activity for a minimum of 150 minutes each week are 67% less likely to die of any cause. According to the researchers, short walks and completing household chores honored this projection.

The second study determined that older women who routinely walk 2,100 to 4,500 steps each day are considerably less likely to succumb to a heart attack or stroke. 

“Finding a way to physically move more in an activity that suits your capabilities and is pleasurable is extremely important for all people, and especially for older people who may have risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Physical activities such as brisk walking can help manage high blood pressure and high cholesterol, improve glucose control among many benefits,” explains Barry A. Franklin, a professor of internal medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan, in an official release by the American Heart Association.

On the move

The first study was comprised of 1,262 participants, 54% of whom were female. The median age of the recruitment pool was 69.

All of the individuals were fitted with actigraphs for 10 hours a day for a minimum of four days a week. 

Participants who committed to 30 minutes of light-intensity activities enjoyed a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause. Conversely, sitting or lying down in the same place for more than 30 minutes at a time endured a 32% risk increase of dying from any cause. 

“Promoting light-intensity physical activity and reducing sedentary time may be a more practical alternative among older adults,” explained Joowon Lee, Ph.D., a researcher at Boston University in a press statement. 

The second study included 6,000 women. Each was fitted with a waist monitor that tracked their activity for seven days consecutive days for just about seven years.

“Despite popular beliefs, there is little evidence that people need to aim for 10,000 steps daily to get cardiovascular benefits from walking. Our study showed that getting just over 4,500 steps per day is strongly associated with reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in older women,” said lead study author Andrea Z. LaCroix, Ph.D., said professor and chief of epidemiology at the University of California, San Diego.

Even when outcomes were adjusted for pre-existing conditions, like obesity and high blood pressure, walking at least 4,500  steps a day was associated with a 10% death risk decrease-irrespective of how quickly they walked. 

“Taking more steps per day, even just a few more, is achievable, and step counts are an easy-to-understand way to measure how much we are moving. There are many inexpensive wearable devices to choose from. Our research shows that older women reduce their risk of heart disease by moving more in their daily life, including light activity and taking more steps. Being up and about, instead of sitting, is good for your heart,” Dr. Lacroix concluded.