Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

You May Need Less Than 10,000 Steps Per Day to Help You Live Longer, Study Says

Health + Wellness
stockstudioX / E+ / Getty Images

Fitness tracking apps and personal step counters like Fitbit often prescribe walking 10,000 steps per day as a benchmark for achieving better health, but longevity benefits may kick in well before that for older women, a new study has found.


Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that older women who took even just 4,400 steps per day on average had lower mortality rates than those who only reached 2,700 or fewer steps each day. In all, women who hit at least 4,400 steps were 41 percent less likely to die during the more than four-year follow-up period compared with less active women, NPR reported.

The study, published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, consisted of nearly 17,000 women participating in the Women's Health Study with a mean age of 72 years and as old as 101 years, whose steps per day were measured by a clip-on wearable device during a seven-day period between 2011 and 2015. The women continued to report their diets, lifestyle choices and other health records until their data was analyzed between 2018 and 2019.

But before you start boosting your daily step quota, the study may have found that the association has a limit: the women's mortality rates decreased the more steps they took each day only until they reached 7,500 steps, at which point the health benefits appeared to plateau.

"Our message is not a new message: Physical activity is good for you. What's new and striking is how little you need to do to make a difference," lead author, I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told HealthDay. Currently, federal guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per day.

The women in the study averaged just under 5,500 steps per day, which is in line with previous research into how much physical activity the average American adult gets. The study also found that the number of steps taken was more closely linked with lower mortality rates than step intensity. These findings add to a growing body of research indicating that even minimal amounts of daily exercise can ward off health problems in older people.

"Just do a little bit. If you just do a little bit, you're better off," Lee told Time. "Don't be discouraged if you don't meet 10,000 steps."

The study was limited in that it was observational and could not show a cause-and-effect relationship and it only dealt with women, Time reported. Lee believes the results of future studies might be similar for older men as well, CNN reported, but not necessarily for different age groups: younger people might require more steps, she said.

Lee said the idea of people needing 10,000 steps per day for health dates back to a Japanese pedometer created in the 1960's. The machine was called "Manpo-kei," which means "10,000 steps meter" in Japanese, Lee told CNN. This figure eventually took off in the United States as a popular health recommendation without much supporting scientific evidence, NPR reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less
African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less
People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less