Cardiovascular disease: Walking 6,000+ steps daily may lower risk for older adults

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Share on PinterestResearch suggests that walking more than 6,000 steps per day can significantly cut the risk of cardiovascular disease for older adults. Kristin Duvall/Stocksy

A new study suggests that people over 60 may significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps per day.

Compared to people who walked 2,000 steps per day, researchers found that individuals walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps daily had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, by 40% to 50%.

This study focuses on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. It is a companion to an earlier study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. The earlier study demonstrated that walking 8,200 steps a day can lower the risk of a wide range of chronic health issues.

The new study reports the findings of a meta-analysis of eight prospective studies using health data from 20,152 individuals in the United States and 42 other countries. Their average age was 63.2 years, plus or minus 12.4 years, with 52% being women.

Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Amanda Paluch, a physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who leads the Steps for Health Collaborative. Dr. Paluch said people who currently walk between 2,000 and 3,000 steps a day would experience the most significant reduction in CVD risk by walking more.

For those already taking 7,000 steps a day, the improvement would be less dramatic, though still significant, Dr. Paluch noted.

The study found that for every 1,000 steps added, there was an incremental reduction in CVD risk. Dr. Paluch told MNT: “There was no upper limit at which there was no additional benefit in our study. Each incremental increase was associated with lower heart disease risk in older adults.”

The analysis saw a progressive reduction in CVD risk for people walking as many as 15,000 steps a day. Since the original studies went no higher than that, Dr. Paluch said that her analysis offers no insights regarding the possible benefits of taking more than 15,000 steps a day.

The study suggests that people hoping to lower their risk of CVD may consider setting goals that feel more attainable than the often-cited 10,000-steps-a-day target, which was not based on scientific research. It was originally promoted as part of a 1964 product marketing campaign.