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10,000 Steps Overkill For Reducing Mortality Risk In Older Women Says Study

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Elderly women do not have to take 10,000 steps per day to reap health benefits, according to a new study. Researchers found that women who took an average of about 4,000 steps per day lived longer than those who took less.   ( Julita | Pixabay )

Taking 10,000 steps a day has been a benchmark for physical activity, but new research found that it is not for everyone.

A team of researchers weighed the benefits of walking on the health of elderly women. They discovered that at least for some, taking 10,000 steps a day might be an overkill.

A Few Thousand Steps A Day Could Decrease Risk Of Early Death

In the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers monitored the overall health of about 17,000 women between the ages of 62 to 101. All the participants were asked to wear movement trackers that counted their every step and speed for at least seven consecutive days. The researchers also collected data on diets, lifestyle habits, and medical histories during the four-year follow-up period.

They found that daily step count is closely associated with mortality risk. The study revealed that older women who take roughly 4,400 steps a day had a 41 percent lower risk of premature death compared to those who take about 2,700 steps a day.

However, the benefits of walking plateaus after around 7,500 steps.

"Just do a little bit. If you just do a little bit, you're better off," I-Min Lee, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the first author of the study, told Time. "Don't be discouraged if you don't meet 10,000 steps."

Contrary to previous research, there seems to be no correlation between walking pace and longetivity. Lee said that in their study, the number of steps that the women took per day mattered.

Physical Activity Matters

The researchers warned that the study only looked at the correlation between the number of steps per day and mortality risk on older women, hence, their findings cannot be applied to the rest of the population. However, Lee said that the findings might also be true among elderly men.

The study also adds evidence that even little amount of physical activity comes with health benefits.

"The scientific evidence that underlies 10,000 steps isn't really clear," commented Lee in an interview with Consumer Reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. Meanwhile, children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day.

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