How much to walk to preserve health? There are those who recommend 5 kilometers a day, some 10,000 steps per day, others who instead indicate at least 30 minutes of walking to get benefits. Today, finally, a study sheds light and indicates how many steps to take to reduce the risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death in general. Not only that, the study also shows that the speed at which we walk plays an important role, sometimes even more than the number of steps. But let's understand better by analyzing the results of the research that appeared a few days ago in the journal JAMA Neurology thanks to a collaboration between Australian and Danish scientists (Cruz et al, JAMA Neurol, 2022).
A huge study to understand the benefits of walking
Scientists drew on data extracted from the database developed by the large UK Biobank study. In particular, it was possible to analyze the health and lifestyle data of 78500 volunteers, all adults between 40 and 79 years old. In this way, the research is the largest ever carried out on the effectiveness of walking in terms of health. All study participants were asked to wear a device capable of storing data on their walks, the number of steps taken and the speed of their walks. Not only that, for all volunteers, with prior consent, health data, hospitalizations and diagnoses were available in the 7 years following the data collection.
How many steps to reduce the risk of disease
From the comparison and analysis of this information, it emerged that every 2000 steps the risk of premature death is reduced by about 10%. This up to 10,000 steps, then no further benefits are recorded. This same association has been observed with regard to the reduction of the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. 9800 steps per day is the optimal number of steps to reduce the risk of dementia by 50%. But here's also good news for those less active. Even less than half of the steps, around 3,800, have been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia by 25%. But even greater benefits, in addition to those reported, have been observed both for the health of the heart, the brain and the entire body, if the walk is carried out at a brisk pace. In this case, the protective action becomes even greater.
So, it really should be said, a brisk walk a day keeps the doctor away. Walking is not an expensive activity, it is instead very pleasant, especially if we can do it in a natural environment, such as a park or a forest, and it brings incredible benefits that science has been able to measure in terms of the number of steps and percentages of risk reduction. Therefore, we do not talk about beliefs and facts without scientific validity, walking is really good for health.