Cardiovascular disease: Taking 500 steps each day may help lower risk


Plenty of studies associate physical activity, including brisk walking, with good health. With much of them focused on young-to-middle aged adults, there have been fewer investigations into the benefits of walking for older people.

New research, however, explores the ways in which walking can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Researchers recently found that for people aged 70 and older, each additional 500 steps of daily brisk walking lowered the risk of CVD by 14%.

In addition, individuals who walked roughly 4,500 steps each day lowered their risk of CVD by 77%.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023.

The research involved 452 participants from the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities studyTrusted Source.

The participants’ average age was 78, and 59% were women. Twenty percent self-identified as Black, 70% of whom were women.

Researchers tracked participants’ daily step counts using an accelerometer worn at the hip, and their cardiovascular health was tracked for a period of 3.5 years.

During that period, almost 12% of participants who walked fewer than 2,000 steps a day experienced a cardiovascular event.

Just 3.5% of those who walked around 4,500 daily steps had one.

Cardiac events include coronary heart diseaseTrusted Source, strokeTrusted Source, or heart failureTrusted Source.

Similarly, in another recently published study, researchers found that 11 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day (or about 75 minutes a week)—such as brisk walking, hiking, or dancing—may be able to lower the risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

While higher-intensity physical activity also offers health benefits, for older people, brisk walking may be a more practical option.

“Walking is a great way to get physical activity. Not only is it a low-impact, weight bearing exercise which is important for bone health in older adults, walking is associated with reducing risk factors for CVD by helping to control blood pressure and blood sugars, decrease weight, and help reduce stress.”