Cardiovascular Health: How Many Steps Should Older Adults Walk Daily?

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Research suggests that walking more than 6,000 steps per day can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults. Kristin Duvall/Plump
  • A recent study finds that walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps a day is linked to a dramatically lower risk of cardiovascular disease for older adults.
  • Every additional 1,000 steps taken daily, especially for people who currently walk less than 3,000 steps a day, marks a substantial reduction in cardiovascular risk.
  • The study analyzed data from more than 20,000 people in the United States and 42 other countries.
  • Experts say it’s not hard to track your daily steps, even without a fitness tracking device.

A new study suggests that people over the age of 60 can significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps per day.

This study focuses on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is a complement to an earlier study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. The above study showed that walking 8,200 steps a day can reduce the risk of a wide range of chronic health problems.

The new study reports the findings of a meta-analysis of eight prospective studies using health data from 20,152 people in the United States and 42 other countries. Their average age was 63.2 years, plus or minus 12.4 years, with 52% being women.

The study appears in the journal Circulation.

today’s medical news spoke with Dr. Amanda Paluch, a physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who leads the Steps for Health Collaborative. Dr. Paluch said that people who currently walk between 2,000 and 3,000 steps a day would experience the most significant reduction in CVD risk by walking more.

For those already taking 7,000 steps a day, the improvement would be less dramatic, though still significant, Dr. Paluch noted.

The study found that for every 1,000 steps added, there was an incremental reduction in CVD risk.

Dr Paluch said MNT:

“There was no upper limit where there was no additional benefit in our study. Each incremental increase was associated with a lower risk of heart disease in older adults.”

The analysis saw a progressive reduction in CVD risk for people walking up to 15,000 steps per day. Since the original studies weren’t higher than that, Dr. Paluch said her analysis doesn’t provide insight into the potential benefits of taking more than 15,000 steps a day.

The study suggests that people hoping to reduce their CVD risk may want to consider setting goals that feel more achievable than the frequently cited goal of 10,000 steps a day, which was not based on scientific research. It was originally promoted as part of a 1964 product marketing campaign.

While it is true that the more steps the better, the most important thing is to increase the number of steps.

The study found no association between increasing steps and reducing CVD risk in younger adults.

This is not surprising, Dr. Paluch said, since CVD is largely a disease of older people. The study reports that only 4.2% of younger adults had subsequent CVD events, compared to 9.5% of older adults.

This doesn’t mean younger adults shouldn’t exercise for their cardiovascular health, Dr. Paluch said:

“For younger adults, physical activity benefits many of the precursors to cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are more likely to develop in young adults and are important for health. early prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiologist Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, of Noninvasive Cardiology at Orange Coast Medical Center’s MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute in Fountain Valley, CA, was not involved in the study.

“Steps alone should not be used to measure how much exercise is enough,” said Dr. Ni. MNT.

“Ideally, exercise should be intentional and daily, with at least a moderate intensity,” he said. “Younger adults should also focus on incorporating unintentional exercise into their daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving, [and] more physically active recreation.”

“I recommend older adults get a step tracker,” Dr. Ni said, “as they are now extremely easy to obtain for little to no cost. Health insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plans often provide pedometers and step meters to encourage exercise.

“Step trackers can be a great way to monitor and inspire you to reach your next-step goals,” Dr. Paluch noted.

Dr. Ni added that many smartphones have built-in step trackers, so people may find out that they already have one.

However, there are other ways to count steps, Dr. Paluch said. For example, a half mile is approximately 1,000 steps.

You can also measure your steps according to the length of your walk. Brisk walking, considered a moderate-intensity activity, clocks in at about 100 steps per minute. The study found no further reduction in CVD risk from walking faster than this.

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