Many of us wear activity trackers on a regular basis, which track how many steps we take each day. It can be challenging to interpret these figures in terms of what they might indicate for our general health. Is exercise intensity, such as a brisk walk or jog, more important than merely the total number of steps taken each day?
Compared to walking the same amount of steps but at a slower rate, a new study that analyses activity tracker data from 78,500 people found that walking briskly for roughly 30 minutes each day lowered the risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and death. These results were recently published in two papers in the journals JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurology.
9,800 steps a day offered the highest level of protection.
“Activity tracker data is going to be better than self-reported data,” said Dr. Michael Fredericson, a sports physician at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study. “We know that people’s ability to self-report is flawed,” often because people don’t accurately remember how much exercise they did in a day or week.
Following the gathering of this information, researchers followed the health results of the participants, keeping tabs on whether they experienced heart disease, cancer, dementia, or death over the course of six to eight years.
Up to 10,000 additional steps each day, according to research, a person’s chance of dying young, developing heart disease, or developing cancer is reduced by roughly 10%. 9,800 steps per day were linked to a 50% lower risk of dementia development, with a risk reduction of 25% beginning at roughly 3,800 steps per day. There just weren’t enough people walking more than 10,000 steps per day to assess whether there were any extra advantages.