Hoe meer je loopt, hoe langer je leeft

The more you walk, the longer you live

Walking is healthy , that much is clear, but how many steps exactly should you take per day? There was discussion about this for a long time. Fortunately, the largest study ever on the subject now comes with a definitive conclusion.
And it's not too bad: those 10,000 steps are not necessary. To be precise, the risk of premature death already decreases with 3967 steps per day and after at least 2337 steps the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease is lower than in people who exercise little or no exercise.

More steps, more years of life

We often sit still, work at home or hang out on the couch. Of course we know that more exercise is better, but what is the point? And how much? Which means: more = better. The more you walk, the longer you live on average. As mentioned, never before has such extensive research been conducted into the benefits of walking. Seventeen studies involving a total of more than 220,000 people from all over the world were included in the enormous meta-analysis. With every five hundred to a thousand additional steps per day, the risk of dying from any cause decreases significantly. For every thousand steps, the risk of dying decreases by 15 percent and five hundred steps already reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 7 percent.

No upper limit found

However, the American researchers found no upper limit. They calculated that even for people who average 20,000 steps per day, there are still additional health benefits. “Our research shows that the more you walk, the better it is for your body and limbs,” says professor and cardiologist Maciej Banach of Johns Hopkins University. “We conclude that this applies to both men and women, regardless of their age and whether they live in a subtropical, temperate or cold region. People only need to take an average of 4,000 steps per day to significantly reduce their overall risk of premature death, and even less exercise than that is sufficient to reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

Greatest risk for women and people in rich countries

There is strong evidence that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the risk of cardiovascular disease and a shorter life. At the same time, more than a quarter of all people on earth exercise too little. This applies more to women (32 percent) than men (23 percent) and to people from rich countries (37 percent) more than to people from poor countries (16 percent). The benefit was greatest for younger people. People over 60 who took 10,000 steps a day were 42 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who took an average of 6,000 steps. In younger adults, a lower risk of 49 percent was found between 7,000 and 13,000 daily steps.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world. The organization estimates that 3.2 million people die every year from lack of exercise. The corona pandemic has caused people worldwide to exercise even less and this has not improved in the years that followed.

The participants with an average age of 64 years were followed for an average of seven years. “Until now it was not clear what the optimal number of steps per day is. We didn't know where the health benefits start, where the optimum is and where the upper limit is. That is different after our research. Although I must say that we have little data on people who take around 20,000 steps every day, so those results need to be confirmed in follow-up research with larger groups of fanatics,” explains researcher Ibadete Bytyçi.

Less medicine, more exercise

Professor Banach concludes with the advice to exercise more and take less medication. “In a world in which we are increasingly focusing on new medications and surgical procedures, it is just as important to encourage exercise, a healthy diet and an overall healthy lifestyle. In this way we may prevent and alleviate even more cardiovascular disorders and other potentially fatal conditions. We would like to conduct more health research in the near future into the effects of exercise on intensive endurance athletes, such as marathon runners and triathlon participants from all over the world and of different ages. It seems that a personal approach to stimulating lifestyle changes works best, just as is the case with medical treatments.”

Original article by: Jeannette Kras, Scientias.nl

Source: " The association between daily step count and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a meta-analysis " - European Journal of Preventive Cardiology