Additional data on the value of light physical activity comes from the Women’s
Health Study. It measured daily average step counts among older women in their
70s and then checked subsequent deaths four to five years later. The study found
that the least active women averaged about 2,700 steps a day, and higher averages
of steps per day reduced deaths up to a plateau of about 7,500 steps a day. Just
reaching 4,500 steps a day was associated with being 40% less likely to have died
in the follow-up period than those taking about 2,700 steps a day, and walking faster
or slower did not seem to affect mortality.

One study has noted that there is no scientific basis for the notion that 10,000 steps
a day is best for health and that there is limited information on how many daily
steps are needed for health. Walking a mile requires 2000-2200 steps depending
on stride length. The commonly cited goal of 10,000 steps a day seems to have
come from the brand name of a Japanese pedometer, Manpo-kei, that translates to
“10,000 steps meter.”

A 2020 study published in the JAMA found that a greater number of steps per day
was significantly associated with lower all-cause mortality. The adjusted hazard
ratio for 8000 steps/day vs. 4000 steps/day was 0.49. The reduction in mortality with
an increasing number of steps plateaued at about 12,000 steps per day. This relationship
is shown in figure below, that compares mortality rates to steps per day adjusted
for study participants characteristics and health according to age, diet quality,
sex, race-ethnicity, BMI, education, alcohol consumption, smoking status, diabetes,
stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema,
mobility limitation, and self-reported general health. The effect was prominent
for cardiovascular deaths but also was significant for cancer deaths. There was no
significant association between step intensity and all-cause mortality after adjusting
for the total number of steps per day.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.