Stepping Toward Longevity

By Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
September 18, 2021 Updated: September 18, 2021

Do you want to live longer? You can boost your chances one step at a time.

A new study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that walking can lead to a longer life. So, if you’ve started a walking routine during the pandemic or are keeping a score of steps on a fitness tracker, you could be in luck.

And you don’t even need to aim for the magical (and completely arbitrary) 10,000 steps per day. The benefits of walking are relative: If you’re only getting about 2,000 steps per day now, getting to 4,000 will come along with some added benefits.

This new study found that people who took 7,000 steps per day had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of dying from all causes during an 11-year follow-up, compared to those who took fewer steps.

Researchers found incremental benefits when people took more steps, which ultimately began to taper off around 10,000.

They also found that speed didn’t matter. Step intensity, or the number of steps per minute, didn’t influence the team’s findings.

In other words, a slow saunter could be just as beneficial as a quick walk. The key was the number of steps.

Around 7,000 steps is a good goal if you’re not currently getting that much. But if you’re only getting about 4,000 per day, just try getting to 5,000 or 6,000 over the next few weeks and go from there. It could mean scheduling a 20-minute walk into your daily routine.

But really, the goal should be to aim for more steps than you got yesterday.

The researchers didn’t really examine how walking contributed to a longer life. That said, physical activity is linked to better cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, weight reduction, lower blood sugar, more efficient use of cholesterol, and better brain health.

If you want to live a longer life, walking may be one of the best ways to do it. You really don’t need any new tools either. Fitness trackers can be useful, but there are plenty of apps on your smartphone that can do the same job.

All you really need is time and a pair of comfortable and supportive walking sneakers that fit well!

Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.