Walking is one of the easiest and most popular ways to increase your level of physical activity. Regardless of whether you track your steps with a wireless device or you decide to walk to a certain amount of time, there is no doubt that increasing your activity level has significant health benefits.
Many fitness advocates recommend walking at least 10,000 steps per day but this can be a daunting task. Depending on your height and fitness ability, this could translate into close to 5 miles per day which might be a bit much for a beginner. But thankfully, new evidence suggests that the health benefits of walking can still be obtained while taking fewer steps.
A recent study published on May, 19, 2019 in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the daily activity of almost 17,000 women with an average age of 72 years. Each participant wore a device on their hip that measured acceleration during their waking hours for seven consecutive days.
Of the women who finished the study, those who had around 4,400 steps per day had a 41% lower risk of death during the study than those who took 2,700 steps. The pattern of decreased risk continued until about 7,500 steps when the effect leveled off. And they noted that step intensity wasn’t linked to lower mortality. In fact, most of the women walked slower than what would have been considered moderately intense walking.
So if you’re thinking you need to jump in and go for a 5-mile walk, that might not be the case. Start with 1 mile (approximately 1,000 steps) and build up your stamina from there. Remember, it isn’t as much about the intensity of your steps but about the consistency of the activity.
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