Apr 5, 2022 - Health

7,000 steps can save your life

Illustration of a sneaker with a logo in the shape of a EKG line
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Want to live longer? Take a hike — a shorter one than you’ve been told.

  • Stunning stat: Mortality risk was reduced by 50% for older adults who increased their daily steps from around 3,000 to around 7,000, according to new medical research.

Why it matters: 7,000 is the new 10,000, in terms of steps you should shoot for, The Lancet medical journal reports.

  • This is all it takes for those 60 and older to dramatically increase their lifespans.

Even for younger adults, the benefits of daily walking actually level off around 9,000 steps per day, not 10,000, the researchers found.

  • The risk reduction plateaued beyond that number.

The big picture: "Walking benefits nearly every cell in the body," says Amanda Paluch, a kinesiologist and public health expert at UMass Amherst and the lead author of the study.

  • It's wildly effective. Walking strengthens your heart, improves bone density, relaxes your mind, and helps with muscle-building and pain management.
  • Almost everyone can do it anywhere: your house, the office, outside. Start with 30 minutes and work your way up.

Between the lines: "It's not an all or nothing situation," says Paluch. Even just boosting daily step count to 5,000 — for 60 and older — and 7,000 — for younger folks — slashed mortality risk by 40%.

  • Most of us can track our steps with our phones. If you have a smartphone, you likely already have a health app that's counting them. If you want deeper insights, you can download a step-tracking app like this one.
  • And here are some simple and cheap pedometers if that's your jam.

The bottom line: Most of us have the ability to add some extra steps to our days with quick decisions like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or calling into a meeting on a walk.

  • Any number of steps you can add helps.

🏁 Editor's note: This article appeared first in Axios Finish Line, a new newsletter in the Axios Daily Essentials package. Sign up here.

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