May 15, 2020


If Not 10,000, How Many Steps Should We Be Walking Each Day? (TANNER GARRITY,  MAY 15, 2020, Inside Hook)

Some 40 years later, an epidemiologist named I-Min Lee was in a friendly contest with her colleagues at the Harvard University School of Public Health to see which team could score the most overall steps per day. As the competition wore on and participants struggled to meet the daily goal of 10,000 steps, Lee did a little digging on the number and discovered the Yamasa backstory. And then, because this is Harvard we're talking about, she used her background in exercise study to launch a full research study, relating step volume with all-cause mortality in older women.

The number 10,000 didn't come up in her research, but the numbers 2,700 and 4,400 did. Over several years, she followed 17,000 women with a mean age of 72, and ultimately deduced that women who averaged 4,400 steps a day had lower mortality rates than those who averaged 2,700 steps a day. Her team's research suggested that a blanket "10,000 steps or bust" approach is counterproductive; based on age, gender and lifestyle, a far smaller number can still have positive impacts on longevity. This was reinforced in another study published in March of this year, which found lower all-cause mortality for a sample size including a range of middle-aged men and women, 36% of whom were obese. Those who walked closer to 8,000 steps a day (as opposed to 4,000) were considered healthier. [...]

Interestingly, that system also puts brisk walkers at a disadvantage in the daily race to 10,000. Which is a bit of a shame -- fast walking is one of the healthiest daily habits available to us. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in June 2019 found that people who routinely walk at least 100 steps a minute can expect to live 15-20 years longer. Not too shabby. The head researcher on the project, Dr. Francesco Zaccardi, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, reported that longer life expectancies were evident across a massive variance of participating body mass indexes, from 20 all the way up to 40 (which is characterized as obese).

That's because motoring down the sidewalk isn't just a gimmicky advertisement for suburban living. Brisk walking is a legitimate form of low-intensity cardio. Performed every single day, quicker strides serve to strengthen the heart, and are likely to lessen risk of a cardiovascular disease later in life (which everyone is at risk for -- CVDs, remember, account for over 30% of global deaths each year). This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff; there were studies on the importance of "stride rate" back in 2014. In one study, participants who reached at least 5,000 steps a day while mixing in aerobic steps (periods of walking 60 steps per minute) scored more desirable readings for body fat percentage, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure than those who reached 5,000 steps a day without any aerobic steps.

Posted by at May 15, 2020 9:15 AM