Share on PinterestIncreasing your step count can have a major impact on your health. chabybucko/Getty Images
- A new report finds getting 8,800 steps can help your health.
- Additionally, getting more steps in 500-step increments can also boost your overall health.
- The health benefits plateaued around 10,000 steps.
Want to know how many steps you should get a day? While many people focus on 10,000 steps, a new study finds that getting 8,800 steps can lower your mortality risk.
And the report found that adding steps in 500-step increments can also boost your health.
A new meta-analysis led by the University of Granada, found that 8,800 daily steps, which equates to about four miles, can significantly reduce the risk of premature death.
Walking at a brisker pace can also boost the health benefits, according to the findings, which were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in October.
The report is the first to measure the ideal amount of steps you need to walk each day and adds to growing evidence suggesting short bursts of physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease and death.
“This study shows that the activity threshold for cardiovascular benefit is quite low. Hopefully, this will encourage people who previously felt intimidated by exercise to incorporate more physical activity into their daily routines,” Dr. Dmitriy Nevelev, Associate Director of Cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital, said.
Nevelev was not part of the research.
The optimal amount of daily steps
The researchers conducted a literature review of 12 studies involving over 111,000 participants.
They examined the relationship between step counts and all-cause mortality and incident cardiovascular disease.
The team found that 8,800 is the ideal amount of steps to walk each day in order to substantially lower the risk of all-cause mortality.
Roughly 7,200 is the optimal amount of steps needed to protect cardiovascular health.
Even 2,600 daily steps was linked to a lower risk of mortality and 2,800 steps were connected to cardiovascular benefits.
The report also showed that adding just 500 steps to your day improves your health.
The health benefits plateaued around 10,000 steps. However, there was no attenuation in health benefits among people walking 16,000 steps a day.
“Additional steps can be beneficial for other endpoints, such as quality of life, mental health, etc.,” one of the study’s authors, Thijs Eijsvogels, PhD, an exercise physiologist and researcher in the Department of Medical BioSciences at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, told Healthline.
Finally, the study found that walking faster was linked to a reduced risk of mortality.
“We found that a higher cadence was associated with additional risk reduction, independent of step volume,” Eijsvogels said.
Short walks can go a long way
For many people, walking 7,000 to 9,000 steps a day is a more realistic goal than 10,000 steps, according to the researchers.
And it’s not an all-or-nothing benefit. The researchers found that increasing your daily step count by 500 can boost the overall health benefits.
If you can do a little more, adding approximately 10 minutes of walking or around 1,000 steps, it can be incredibly beneficial, even if you’re not able to take the full 8,800 steps.
Every step counts, Eijsvogels said.
“Small increases in daily steps are associated with substantial health benefits, with measurable effects from 2,600 steps/day onwards,” Eijsvogels said.
Knowing this, people can gradually increase their daily step goals rather than immediately aiming for 8,000 or more steps.
“This means that even just a little bit of walking a day can mean a very big deal,” said Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, CA.
You can further boost your health outcomes by increasing how fast you walk.
“Walking at an increased pace increases the intensity of exercise, which accelerates the physiological changes that provide for the improved health benefit,” says Chen.
How to get more steps each day
Tracking steps is an easy, effective, and accessible way of meeting daily activity goals.
To increase your step count, Nevelev suggests altering your commuting routine and going for walks around the neighborhood.
For example, if you take public transportation, consider getting off the bus or train a stop earlier than you normally do, he said.
If you drive, another option is to park farther away from the office or grocery store.
Chen recommends scheduling breaks throughout the day to take short five-minute walks.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk more briskly while shopping, he added.
“When it comes to physical activity: any is better than none, and more is better than less,” Nevelev said.
The bottom line:
The optimal amount of daily steps may not be 10,000, as previous unfounded claims have suggested, but is closer to 8,000 steps, new research suggests. Walking at a brisker pace can boost the health benefits. Tracking steps is an easy, effective, and accessible way of meeting daily activity goals.