Taking 8,600 steps a day will prevent weight gain in adults, while adults who are already overweight can cut their chances of becoming obese in half by adding an extra 2,400 steps—that’s 11,000 steps a day, according to new research .
Studies show that the average person gains 1 to 2 pounds each year from young adulthood to middle age, slowly leading to an unhealthy weight and even obesity over time.
“People can actually reduce their risk of obesity by walking more,” said study author Dr. Evan Brittain, an associate professor in the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
The new study also found key benefits for chronic diseases and conditions: “Diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes, depression and GERD all showed benefits with higher steps,” Brittain said.
“The association with hypertension and diabetes leveled off after about 8,000 to 9,000 steps, but the others were linear, meaning higher steps continued to reduce risk,” he said. “I would say the take-home messages are that more steps are better.”
It’s yet another study that illustrates the powerful impact that walking and other forms of exercise have on our health. In fact, if you get up and move around for 21.43 minutes every day of the week, you reduce your risk of dying from all causes by a third, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Current physical activity recommendations for adults are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, dancing, bicycling, doubles tennis, and water aerobics, and two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week.
“Physical activity is absolutely wonderful,” Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular wellness and prevention at National Jewish Health in Denver, told CNN in a previous interview.
“And if you combine that with a more plant-based diet, de-stressing, getting enough sleep and connecting with others, that’s your magic recipe,” Freeman said. It is the fountain of youth, so to speak.
Lower risk of obesity with more steps
The study analyzed an average of four years of activity and health data from more than 6,000 participants in the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, which is dedicated to investigating ways to develop individualized health care.
Participants in the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, wore activity trackers at least 10 hours a day and allowed researchers to access their electronic health records for several years.
“Our study had an average of four years of continuous activity follow-up. Thus, we were able to account for the totality of activity between the time follow-up began and the time a disease was diagnosed, which is a big advantage because we didn’t have to make any assumptions about activity over time, unlike all previous studies,” Brittain said.
The people in the study were between the ages of 41 and 67 and had body mass index levels of 24.3, which is considered in the healthy weight range, to 32.9, which is considered obese.
The researchers found that people who walked 6.5 kilometers a day (about 8,200 steps) were less likely to become obese or suffer from sleep apnea, acid reflux, and major depressive disorder. Sleep apnea and acid reflux respond well to weight loss, which can reduce pressure on the throat and stomach, while exercise is a critical treatment for depression.
The study also found that overweight participants (those with a BMI of 25 to 29) cut their risk of becoming obese in half if they increased their steps to 11,000 steps per day. In fact, “this increase in step count resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the cumulative incidence of obesity at 5 years,” the study found.
Applying the data to a specific example, the authors said that people with a BMI of 28 could reduce their risk of obesity by 64 percent by increasing steps from about 6,000 to 11,000 steps per day.
Recent studies on the benefits of steps
The new research echoes the results of a recent study in Spain in which researchers found that the health benefits increased with each step up to around 10,000 steps, when the effects began to fade. Counting steps can be especially important for people who engage in unstructured and unplanned physical activities, such as housework, gardening, and dog walking.
“In particular, we detected an association between incidental steps (steps taken to carry out daily life) and a lower risk of both cancer and heart disease,” study co-author Borja del Pozo Cruz told CNN. in a previous interview. Del Pozo Cruz is Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and Principal Researcher in Health Sciences at the University of Cádiz in Spain.
The same research team also recently published a similar study that found walking 10,000 steps a day reduced dementia risk by 50 percent; the risk decreased by 25 percent with just 3,800 steps a day.
However, walking at a brisk pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes maximized risk reduction, leading to a 62% reduction in dementia risk. The 30-minute brisk walk didn’t have to happen all at once, either: They could be spread out throughout the day.
The researchers found that the association between maximum 30-minute steps and risk reduction was dependent on the disease studied: there was a 62% reduction for dementia, an 80% reduction for cardiovascular disease and death, and a reduction about 20% for dementia. cancer risk.
The new study also found an association between step intensity and health benefits, “although the relationships were less consistent than with step count,” the researchers said.
A major limitation of all studies using step trackers is that people who use them tend to be more active and healthier than normal, the researchers said. “However, the fact that we were able to detect strong associations between steps and incident illness in this active sample suggests that even stronger associations may exist in a more sedentary population,” they said.
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