7,000 daily steps could help you reach a longer life, study says

People wearing protective face shields walk inside a park after few restrictions were lifted, during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, May 31, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

No matter how many steps you take each day, your health benefits add up. But those who take 7,000 steps a day may be adding years to their lives.

New research found that middle-aged adults who took that many steps daily were up to 70 percent less likely to die at a younger-than-expected age than were those whose movement totaled fewer than 7,000 steps a day. The study, which involved 2,110 middle-aged adults who wore a step-counting device and then were tracked for nearly 11 years, was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

How fast participants walked (referred to as their step intensity) did not affect their mortality risk. Rather, those who walked more lived longer. The researchers found, however, that taking more than 10,000 steps a day – the number often cited as a daily goal for health – yielded no further drop in mortality risk.

Physical activity like walking is considered one of the most important things people can do to improve their well-being, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A former CDC director described physical activity as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”

Among its benefits, walking can reduce risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and depression, and it can help control weight and improve sleep. It is considered good for your bones, muscles, heart and brain. Although walking is considered safe for most people, those who have any concerns should check with their doctor before launching any new physical activity routine. For adults generally, national guidelines focus on time spent on an activity rather than number of steps, recommending 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity like walking.

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