I’m a big Fitbit guy these days and am obsessed with counting my daily steps, with my goal to always be 10K a day, and at the moment I’m on a streak, although some days it’s really a job.
A new study pleases me, and those who routinely come up short of their goal of hitting 10,000 steps a day. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst say that 7,000 steps appear to be enough to make a difference in health, reports the Boston Herald.
In the study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers found that middle-aged people, and yes, older-middle-aged people like me, who walked, on average, 7,000 steps a day had a 50% to 70% lower chance of dying from any cause over the next decade, per NBC News.
The results cut across gender and racial lines. Not that researchers are advocating that people quit at 7,000—the health benefits continued to increase up to 10,000 before leveling off. Generally speaking, 2,000 steps is about a mile, and routine daily activities can rack up 5,000 steps for some.
“You see this gradual risk reduction in mortality as you get more steps,” says study author Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the university, per the Herald. “There were substantial health benefits between 7,000 and 10,000 steps, but we didn’t see an additional benefit from going beyond 10,000 steps.”
In terms of raw numbers, the study followed 2,110 people ages 38 to 50 who tracked their steps in 2005 and 2006 with a device called an accelerometer. Over the next decade or so, 72 of the participants died, mostly from heart disease or cancer.
An accompanying editorial notes that before step counting becomes part of formal national health guidelines, more research is needed to gauge the accuracy of step counters on phones, smartwatches, and the like.
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