Longevity Articles

Walking 8,000 Daily Steps Just 1-2 Days Per Week Reduces Mortality Risk By 15%

Walking 8,000 Daily Steps Just 1-2 Days Per Week Reduces Mortality Risk By 15%
  • People who walk 8,000 steps or more on 1–2 days per week is linked to reduced all-cause mortality and cardiovascular-related mortality.

  • Walking 8,000 steps 1-2 days per week reduced all-cause mortality by 15%, while walking 8,000 steps 3-7 days per week reduced it by 16.5% (compared to those meeting that goal zero days per week).

  • This study suggests that taking long walks just once or twice per week can confer significant health benefits. 

This study was published in JAMA Network Open in 2023. (Study abstract excerpt): 

Importance: Previous studies have shown that individuals who regularly walk, particularly 8000 daily steps or more, experience lower mortality. However, little is known about the health benefits of walking intensively only a few days a week.

Objective: To evaluate the dose-response association between the number of days an individual takes 8000 steps or more and mortality among US adults.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study evaluated a representative sample of participants aged 20 years or older in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005-2006 who wore an accelerometer for 1 week and their mortality data through December 31, 2019. Data were analyzed from April 1, 2022, to January 31, 2023.

Exposures: Participants were grouped by the number of days per week they took 8000 steps or more (0 days, 1-2 days, and 3-7 days).

Main outcomes and measures: Multivariable ordinary least squares regression models were used to estimate adjusted risk differences (aRDs) for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality during the 10-year follow-up, adjusting for potential confounders (eg, age, sex, race and ethnicity, insurance status, marital status, smoking, comorbidities, and average daily step counts).

Results: Among 3101 participants (mean [SD] age, 50.5 [18.4] years; 1583 [51.0%] women and 1518 [49.0%] men; 666 [21.5%] Black, 734 [23.7%] Hispanic, 1579 [50.9%] White, and 122 [3.9%] other race and ethnicity), 632 (20.4%) did not take 8000 steps or more any day of the week, 532 (17.2%) took 8000 steps or more 1 to 2 days per week, and 1937 (62.5%) took 8000 steps or more 3 to 7 days per week. Over the 10-year follow-up, all-cause and cardiovascular deaths occurred in 439 (14.2%) and 148 (5.3%) participants, respectively. Compared with participants who walked 8000 steps or more 0 days per week, all-cause mortality risk was lower among those who took 8000 steps or more 1 to 2 days per week (aRD, -14.9%; 95% CI -18.8% to -10.9%) and 3 to 7 days per week (aRD, -16.5%; 95% CI, -20.4% to -12.5%). The dose-response association for both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk was curvilinear; the protective association plateaued at 3 days per week. Different thresholds for the number of daily steps between 6000 and 10 000 yielded similar results.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study of US adults, the number of days per week taking 8000 steps or more was associated with a lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a curvilinear fashion. These findings suggest that individuals may receive substantial health benefits by walking just a couple days a week.

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