Walking can reduce the risk of premature death and cancer

(CNN) — Put on your walking shoes and don’t forget your pedometer: Taking up to 10,000 steps a day can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and premature death, according to a new study, but any number of steps helps.

The study found that the health benefits increased with each step, but peaked at 10,000 steps, after which the effects began to diminish. Step counting can be particularly important for people who engage in unstructured and unplanned physical activities such as housework, gardening and walking the dog.

“In particular, we found an association between casual steps (those that occur in everyday life) and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease,” says study co-author Borja del Pozo Cruz, assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark, and Principal Investigator in Health Sciences at the University of Cadiz, Spain.

“Overall, I think the study is well done and certainly continues to add to the knowledge base that tells us exercise is good for you,” said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and health at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. He was not involved in the investigation.

“Physical activity is absolutely wonderful,” Freeman said. “And if you combine that with a more plant-based diet, de-stressing, getting enough sleep and socializing with others, that’s the magic recipe.” It’s the fountain of youth, if you will.’

Walking also helps prevent dementia

Del Pozo Cruz and his team recently published a similar study that found walking 10,000 steps a day reduced the risk of dementia by 50%. According to the previous study, the risk was reduced by 25% with just 3,800 steps per day.

However, walking at a brisk pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes reduced the risk the most, leading to a 62% reduction in the risk of dementia. Also, the 30 minutes of brisk walking need not be done in one session, but can be spread throughout the day.

“Our view is that step intensity is important beyond volume,” del Pozo Cruz said by email.

The new study, published Monday in the academic journal JAMA Internal Medicinetracked 78,500 people aged between 40 and 79 in England, Scotland and Wales who wore pedometers on their wrists 24 hours a day for seven days.

After counting the total number of steps each person took each day, the researchers classified them into two categories: less than 40 steps per minute, which is more of a walk, like walking from room to room, and more than 40 steps in minute, or what is called “purposeful” walking.

A third category was created for the most active, i.e. those who took the most steps per minute for 30 minutes during the day (though again, those 30 minutes don’t have to happen in one session).

About seven years later, researchers compared that data with medical records and found that people who took the most steps per minute—in this case, about 80 steps per minute—had the greatest reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and death . reason.

The researchers found that the relationship between maximum 30-minute steps and risk reduction depended on the disease being studied.

“We observed a reduction of 62% in the case of dementia: this figure was almost 80% for mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and much less (approximately 20%) for cancer,” del Pozo Cruz said by mail.

“This may be related to the specific pathways through which physical activity is beneficial,” he said. “It strengthens the body as a whole: you can build more muscle, a bigger heart and better fitness, all of which are known protective factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as other health problems.”


What is the conclusion? Don’t watch your step count (unless you really want to), says Freeman.

“Every step counts? Absolutely. And we know that brisk walking every day provides additional benefits in terms of lowering blood pressure and cardiovascular training, among others,” said Freeman, who was founding president of the American Dietetic Association’s Nutrition and Lifestyle Working Group. college of cardiology.

“But the truth is, the same goal has always applied: challenge yourself at whatever fitness level you are. Obviously check with your doctor first, but your goal is to gasp for 30 minutes every day.”

What is exercise-related shortness of breath? It’s not about panting so hard you can barely breathe. Instead, shortness of breath is when you’re walking with someone and they talk to you and you have a little trouble responding, Freeman said.

“Take 30 minutes to catch your breath at whatever pace you’re at, and then continue to challenge yourself to be slightly dissatisfied with your current level so you can get better and better,” said Freeman.

Being more physically active often goes hand-in-hand with other healthy habits, such as a better diet, and discourages unhealthy ones, such as smoking, he added.

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