Your walking speed is just as important as the number of steps you take per day, new research suggests.
Walking 10,000 steps a day has long been associated with a reduced risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and death.
But experts have now found that a faster pace, such as a power walk, offers benefits beyond the number of steps recorded.
“The message we take home here is that for protective health benefits, people should ideally not only aim for 10,000 steps a day, but also strive to walk faster,” co-lead author Dr Matthew Ahmadi, researcher at Charles Perkins Center of the University of Sydney and Faculty of Medicine and Health, said.
However, less active individuals may also reap health benefits.
Associate Professor Borja del Pozo Cruz of the University of Southern Denmark, who is also a senior researcher in health at the University of Cadiz, said: “For less active individuals, our study also shows that just 3,800 steps per day reduce the risk of dementia. by 25 percent.”
According to the study, every 2,000 steps taken reduced the risk of premature death incrementally by eight percent to 11 percent, to about 10,000 steps per day.
Similar associations were seen for cardiovascular disease and cancer incidence.
A higher number of steps per day was associated with a lower risk of all-cause dementia.
Walking 9,800 steps was the optimal daily amount, linked to a 50 percent lower risk of dementia, but the risk was reduced by 25 percent with just 3,800 steps.
A faster pace also showed positive results for heart disease, cancer, dementia and death, on top of total daily steps.
“Step count is easy to understand and is widely used by the public to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps, but people rarely think about the pace of their steps,” senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor of physical activity , lifestyle and public health at the University of Sydney, said.
The study, published in the journals Jama Internal Medicine and Jama Neurologyused data from the UK Biobank study to link data on the number of steps of 78,500 British adults aged 40 to 79 with health outcomes seven years later.
People wore a wrist accelerometer to measure physical activity for at least three days of a seven-day period, including a weekend day and monitoring during sleep periods.
“The size and scope of these studies using wrist-based trackers makes this the most robust evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps per day is the best place for health benefits and that walking faster is associated with additional benefits.” , said Dr. Ahmadi.
“More research with long-term use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily steps.”