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Scientists announce new number of steps needed a day to stay healthy

Scientists announce new number of steps needed a day to stay healthy

If you're used to aiming for 10,000 every day, you might want to reconsider

You might be used to your phone or smartwatch giving you a target of 10,000 steps per day, but you might want to change that goal after hearing about this new research from scientists.

The 10,000 target is one which is often touted to help us keep fit and healthy, with some devices even designed to offer a little celebration when your weary feet finally hit that five-figure mark.

Being able to reach the target every day obviously depends a lot on your age, health and mobility, but it's generally considered a reasonable number for an active adult.

However, between commutes on transport, sitting for hours at work and some much-needed hours to relax in front of the TV at the end of the day, sometimes completing those 10,000 steps feels as tough as running a marathon.

It can be tough to reach 10,000 steps.
Jaime Reimer/Pexels

Now, though, there's a new target - and don't worry, it's not one that will have you pacing up and down the room to try and reach it.

In a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, scientists analysed more than 226,000 people with an average age of 64 across 17 individual studies around the world. Participants were all generally healthy, and took part in the research for an average of seven years.

The methods for counting steps were not identical across the studies, but after analysing the numbers they had, the researchers found that the health benefits of walking begin at a number way below 10,000.

Failing to hit 10,000 every day isn't the end of the world - or your health.
Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

In fact, the findings revealed that just 3,967 steps is enough to reduce the risk of dying from any cause, while a minimum of 2,337 steps make you less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular disease.

Maciej Banach, professor of cardiology at Poland's Medical University of Lodz, said the team's findings applied to women and men, no matter how old they were or and where they lived.

This is obviously great news for anyone who's lived in fear of not hitting that 10,000 target, though it should be stressed that the benefits only continue the more steps you take.

The risk of dying decreases significantly with every 500 to 1,000 steps, with the study revealing that those aged 60 or older had a 42 percent reduction in risk of dying if they walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps a day.

For younger adults, there was a 49 percent reduction in risk through walking between 7,000 and 13,000 steps.

Benefits can begin at around 3,000 steps.
Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty

Prof Banach said: "In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs to target specific conditions such as cardiovascular disease, we should always emphasise lifestyle changes might be at least as or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging lives.

"We still need good studies to investigate whether these benefits may exist for intensive types of exertion, such as marathon running and iron man challenges, and in different populations of different ages, and with different associated health problems.

"However, it seems that, as with pharmacological treatments, we should always think about personalising lifestyle changes."

The NHS explains that a 'brisk, 10-minute' walk each day can itself have a lot of health benefits.

Featured Image Credit: Basak Gurbuz Derman/Smith Collection/Gado / Contributor / Getty

Topics: Science, Health