Stepping out is good for you - research


Step counters are more than a fad. They help us reach our exercise objective. But how many steps are enough?

Key Points


  • The number of steps a person takes each day has a strong link with living a longer and healthier life
  • Taking 8,000 steps per day was associated with a 51% lower risk of death (from all causes)
  • Taking 12,000 steps a day reduced the risk by 65% (compared with taking 4,000 steps)

In a new study, the number of steps a person takes each day, but not the intensity of stepping, has a strong link with living a longer and healthier life.

Previous studies have been done on step counts and mortality. However, they were conducted primarily with older adults or among people with debilitating chronic conditions. This USA study tracked nearly five thousand adults aged 40-plus over seven days.

They found that, compared with taking 4,000 steps per day, a number considered to be low for adults, taking 8,000 steps per day was associated with a 51 per cent lower risk of death (from all causes). Taking 12,000 steps a day reduced the risk by 65 per cent compared with taking 4,000 steps.

And if you thought stepping out hard and fast is better, researchers found no connection between step intensity and risk of death.

One of the authors Dr Eric Shiroma summarised the findings simply: “Exercise is important for older adults, and it’s good to see further evidence that the main thing is to get moving for better overall health as we age.”

A closer look at the findings show higher step counts were associated with lower all-cause death rates among both men and women and among both younger and older adults and were also associated with lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This research backs up current recommendations that adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Adults who do any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. For even greater health benefits, adults are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

Being physically active has many benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. And on a daily basis, it can help us feel better and sleep better.