Do you move at every opportunity, or are you more of a couch potato? Many of us sit for long stretches at work or enjoy a good Netflix binge in our downtime. But, this all means that we don't move as much as we should for optimal health. A new study published in Jama International Medicine confirms that the more you walk, the lower your risk of cancer and other conditions. Quality is important, too. The higher the intensity of steps, the better the overall benefits of the exercise.
There is a caveat, however. The advantages of walking seem to level out once you've done around 10,000 steps. So, should we be aiming to walk this amount every day?
If you have a watch that doubles as a step counter, you may already be clocking your miles. This also seemingly offers a very clear guideline; if you put in your 10,000 steps, you're walking the path to health and happiness, right? But our bodies are not perfect machines, and we have the complexities of genetics and other lifestyle factors to contend with. Additionally, it's not as simple as if your health drops with any step less than 10,000, or over that number, your health and well-being curve keeps increasing.
The general consensus is that keeping your step count up is ultimately better for your body. The same study found that the people who take 10,000 steps have a lower risk of cancer than those who take 8,000 and a lower risk than those who take 6,000. But step counts above 10,000 have a similar risk and health benefit as hitting it, so you don't have to push yourself to do much more than that.
A similar study found that our risk of dementia also decreases with the more steps we take every day. The people who took 3,800 steps had roughly half the reduced risk for dementia as people who took 9,800 steps. For those who are too comfortable on the couch, even the lower number would be an excellent step count to aim for as a start.
Middle-aged and senior folks have been shown to reduce their chances of early death through daily step counts. Elderly women who take 4,400 steps per day are better off than those who take 2,700 per day, and more is even better. Middle-aged people who take more than 7,000 steps have a 50% to 70% reduced risk of dying, compared with people who take fewer than 7,000 steps per day. And if you want to reduce your chances of diabetes or joint stiffness, similar results were shown for reducing both of these through increasing step counts each day.
So make sure you get up and take movement breaks during your day—even if it's walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. It's not just the routine 30 minutes of scheduled exercise that keeps us healthy. As science has shown, it's every step that counts.
A new study confirms that the more you walk, the better it is for your health, although the benefits level out at around 10,000 steps a day.
Walking up to 10,000 steps a day also reduces the chances of dementia and joint stiffness and is great for increasing the health and longevity of middle-aged and elderly people.