Disclosures: Paluch reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.
September 10, 2021
2 min read

Walking at least 7,000 steps a day may lower mortality risk

Disclosures: Paluch reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.
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Men and women who took at least 7,000 steps per day had a 50% to 70% lower risk for mortality than those who took fewer than 7,000 steps per day, according to findings published in JAMA Network Open.

“Given the growth of wearable technology, tracking steps per day and encouraging incremental increases in steps can be a simple way to promote health in a clinical setting,” Amanda E. Paluch, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Healio Primary Care.

Paluch AE, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24516.

Paluch and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort analysis as part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. In this analysis, 2,110 adults aged 38 to 50 years were included; 57.1% were women; 42.1% were Black; and the mean age was 45.2 years. The average follow-up period was 10.8 years.

Participants wore an accelerometer on their hip for 7 consecutive days during all waking hours and their daily step counts were recorded. Fewer than 7,000 steps per day was considered a low daily volume, 7,000 to 9,999 steps was moderate and 10,000 steps or more was high.

Amanda E. Paluch

The median steps taken per day among the study participants was 9,146, according to Paluch and colleagues. Over 22,845 person-years of follow up, 3.4% of the study cohort died. The researchers observed a significantly lower risk for mortality in the moderate (HR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.15-0.54) and high (HR = 0.45; 95% CI, 0.25-0.81) step groups compared with the low step group. Also, a moderate- to high-step rate correlated with a reduced risk for mortality in both Black participants (HR = 0.30; 95% CI, 0.14-0.63) and white participants (HR = 0.37; 95% CI, 0.17-0.81), as well as women (HR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.63) and men (HR = 0.41; 95% CI, 0.20-0.88). Step intensity had no impact on mortality.

“There was an incrementally lower risk of premature death with higher number of steps per day, up to a certain point in which there was diminishing returns after 10,000 steps per day,” Paluch said.

She added that the research team was “a little surprised” that participants who walked 7,000 to 9,999 steps per day had a similar lower risk for mortality compared with those who walked more than 10,000 steps per day.

“For those who are currently not achieving 7,000 steps per day, physicians may consider recommending their patients to increase their steps incrementally,” Paluch said. “For example, for someone obtaining 4,000 steps per day, work toward 1,000 more steps then gradually work your way up until achieving a goal of 7,000 to 10,000 steps to gain substantial health benefits.”