An extra 500 steps each day cuts heart risk for over-70s
WALKING an extra 500 steps a day in your 70s could significantly cut the chances of a heart attack or stroke.
Those who walked more each day lowered their chances of cardiovascular problems by 14 per cent for each additional 500 steps – around a quarter of a mile – taken, research found.
Experts say the findings suggest setting ‘attainable goals’ on fitness trackers could help to maintain good health in old age. Most studies have focused on early-to-midlife adults with daily goals of 10,000 or more steps, which may not be attainable for older people, researchers said.
So in their study of 15,792 adults with an average age of 78, they focused on the health impacts of daily step counts in older individuals.
Scientists analysed health data including more than 450 people who wore a pedometer-like device at their hip to measure their daily steps.
These were worn for three or more days, for ten or more hours, with the average step count about 3,500 steps per day. Some 7.5 per cent of participants experienced a cardiovascular disease event, such as coronary heart disease, a stroke or heart failure, over the next three and a half years.
Of those who took fewer than 2,000 steps a day 12 per cent went on to experience a cardiovascular event.
In comparison those who walked around 4,500 steps a day had a 77 per cent lower risk, with only 3.5 per cent going on to have a similar event.
Every additional 500 steps taken per day was incrementally associated with a 14 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the findings presented at an American Heart Association conference.
Erin E Dooley, of the University of Alabama, who led the study, said: ‘It’s important to maintain physical activity as we age, however, daily step goals should also be attainable.
‘We were surprised to find that every additional quarter of a mile, or 500 steps, of walking had such a strong benefit to heart health.
‘While we do not want to diminish the importance of higher intensity physical activity, encouraging small increases in the number of daily steps also has significant cardiovascular benefits.
‘If you are an older adult over the age of 70, start with trying to get 500 more steps per day.’
‘Strong benefit to health’