A recent study by The Boston University School of Medicine reveals that walking 10,000 steps or more might help with the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, it also has a positive effect on the general physique.
The research, led by assistant professor of medicine Matthew Nayor, was based on more than 2000 participants of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study about cardiovascular risks among residents of Framingham, Massachusetts.
To be a long-term cohort study, they had to investigate three generations to be able to conclude something from the data they gathered. In an interview for the website Futurity, Nayor explained the process of finalizing the study.
“We analyzed data from participants of the Third Generation cohort (literally the grandchildren of the original participants, in many cases) and the multiracial sample. At the most recent study visit in 2016–2019, we performed cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPETs) on stationary cycles for comprehensive fitness evaluations. CPETs are the ‘gold standard’ assessment of fitness and involve exercise testing with a face mask or mouthpiece to measure the oxygen that is breathed in and the carbon dioxide that’s breathed out during exercise.”
The team of researchers was divided into three groups, focusing each on one type of exercise an adult person can do depending on their conditioning and strength. The first is an exercise of low physical demands, consisting of 60 to 99 steps a minute. The moderate exercise consisted of 100 to 129 steps a minute. Finally, the high physical activity required more than 130 steps a minute. Those numbers might vary for young people, as they can endure more steps in this period.
As for the results, in the Futurity interview, Nayor stated that there is a close relationship between higher intensity physical activity and reduced effort levels. In other words, if a person’s exercises can be framed between the categories of moderate and vigorous, they will tend to perform lower levels of effort in physical activities over time.
Similarly, it was confirmed that the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle could be combated with a slight increase in daily steps or physical activity that is done recurrently.
Although the study confirms that the daily goal of 10,000 steps can help maintain a good state of health, performing moderate or vigorous physical activity (intentional exercise) is three times more efficient in avoiding the decrease in the physical condition caused by aging.
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Are 10,000 Steps a Necessary Number?
The study that has been discussed says that this number of steps helps maintain health and physical capacity. However, other previous research suggests different results.
The New York Times references an investigation called “Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women” carried out by Dr. I-Min Lee and a group of researchers. The research suggests that women older than 77 who walk more than 4,500 steps a day have a 40% lower risk of death than those who walk less than half of those steps.
On the other hand, it is also stated that the risk continues to decrease as the number of daily steps increases. But when reaching 7,500 per day, the benefits do not increase. This means that taking more than 10,000 steps will probably have the same effect as taking 7,500. This ties in with the Nayor study in which daily steps are promoted. But people are encouraged to exercise at high intensity to improve their health and physical condition.