June 22, 2022 — Two new studies have found that people who regularly exercise are much more likely to live longer. Fortunately, many people are interested enough in their health that they set daily goals for various activities, like how many steps they take each day. New devices like Fitbits, Apple Watches, and smartphones make that especially easy to do. But how much activity, like the number of steps, is the right number?
For many people 10,000 steps has become a popular goal. Achieving that frequently becomes an obsession or often a competition with friends. They brag about how many steps they got, or worry about a bad day. Hitting 10,000 steps a day is a lot – with a 3′ stride (slightly longer than most people’s) – that would translate to over 5.6 miles. There are a number of other goals that some people set up for themselves, such as the amount of active energy expended (such as 700 calories), floors walked up (e.g.; 5), the number of standing hours (e.g.; 12), or minutes getting some other type of exercise.
It is now increasingly clear that being active is good for us. The NY Times reported in How Much Exercise Do We Need to Stay Healthy? that: “A 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention …. concluded that about 10 percent of all deaths among Americans 40 to 70 years old are a result of too little exercise.” A Norwegian study found that people were more than twice as likely to die young if they reported two decades of inactivity.
In that same Times article they reported on two new studies of middle aged people by the U. of Mass at Amherst and the CDC. Those studies tracked daily step counts for two decades. What the researchers found that is that people in the study who averaged at least 7,000 steps daily had a 50% better chance of avoiding an early death than those who did not walk that much. For folks who walked even more, they could boost that prevention to 70%. But at 10,000 steps a day, there was no further improvement in longevity.
The Times also reported on a Danish study published by the Mayo Clinic. Instead of tracking the number of steps, this one recorded the number of hours of exercise per week. It found that those who averaged between 2.6 and 4.5 hours of exercise per week were 40% less likely to die during the study than those who got less exercise. The authors theorize that that 2.6 hours of weekly activity (about 30 minutes per day) probably translates to around 7,000 steps per day, thus correlating close to the U. Mass study. One surprising conclusion from the Danish study was that people who garnered 10 or more hours of exercise per week not only started to lose any benefit, but their longevity started to decline.
We hope that all of our Members will agree with the conclusion that exercise is good for them, provided they are able to do that. We hope they will strive to either hit that 7,000 steps a day goal, or engage in other activities that would be the equivalent. Speaking personally, it is always satisfying to see our smartwatch informs that we hit a good number of steps that day.
Comments? Have you set a steps or other type of goal for healthy living? If so, what is your target? Will the conclusions from these studies motivate you to either change your goal, or set a new one? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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