Walking 8,000 steps just once or twice per week can extend lifespan by 10 years
A new study has found that walking 8,000 steps just once or twice per week can be enough to significantly reduce the risk of death over 10 years.
The inspiration for the study was people who only have time to walk as exercise on the weekend, study co-author Dr. Kosuke Inoue, a chronic disease epidemiologist at University of California, Los Angeles, tells TODAY.com.
"Although recent studies have shown that more daily steps were associated with a steady decline in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk up to approximately 8,000 daily steps, we realized that evidence is lacking about the health benefits of walking intensively only a few days a week," he explained.
For the study, published this week in JAMA Network Open, researchers used data previously collected for the 2005 and 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. These long-running nationally representative surveys are conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers included 3,101 participants for whom the surveys had accelerometer data that tracked their daily steps for one week, as well as mortality data for at least 10 years. The participants' average age was 50, about half were women, and about half were white.
Their results showed that participants who walked at least 8,000 steps (about 4 miles) one or two days per week were 15% less likely to die within 10 years. There were 75 deaths out of 532 participants who walked at least 8,000 steps only one or two days per week. And there were 107 deaths among 1,937 participants walking 8,000 steps three or more days per week.
But the benefits plateaued after walking at least 8,000 steps three days per week, meaning those who walked that much for four or more days didn't see any further reductions in mortality risk.
And it didn't have to be 8,000 steps exactly: Researchers saw the same benefits, in general, when participants walked anywhere between 6,000 to 10,000 steps.