New research based on fitness tracker data adds specificity to our current understanding of how many steps a person should walk each day to protect their health.
The study suggests that a goal of 8,200 steps a day significantly lowers a person’s risk of chronic disease. Increasing step count and walking intensity is beneficial for avoiding most of the chronic diseases that were studied.
You’ve most likely heard that walking is good for your health — but there’s often a lack of consensus about how much walking you need per day to produce health benefits.
For instance, the popular 10,000 steps-a-day goal originated from product marketing during the 1960s and was not the product of medical investigation. But a new study from researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, takes a fresh look at how many steps a person should take each day — and what kind of steps are most beneficial — to promote good health.
Using data from fitness trackers, researchers found that walking 8,200 steps a day was the threshold at which a person begins to significantly lower their risk of developing a variety of chronic diseases.
The results show an association between walking 8,200 steps and a reduced risk of chronic conditions, including: obesity sleep apnea
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) major depressive disorder (MDD) diabetes hypertension the study also found that walking even more steps continues to increase walking’s benefits for nearly every health condition studied.
The study’s senior investigator, Dr. Evan L. Brittain, associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt, told Medical News Today:
“For most conditions, higher was better. However, for diabetes and hypertension, we observed a plateau at around 8–9000 steps per day, above which there wasn’t any obvious benefit. That’s not to say people at risk of hypertension and diabetes should stop walking when they reach those levels because there are benefits of activity beyond just those two conditions. CVD [cardiovascular disease] didn’t emerge in our analysis, probably because there weren’t enough incident CVD diagnoses to reach statistical significance in our rigorous analyses and in this relatively healthy cohort.”
Physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, not involved in the study, explained to MNT:
“Physical activity such as walking works on multiple mechanisms, affecting nearly every cell in the body to benefit our health.”