The Daily Telegraph

Power walks work wonders in battles against cancer and dementia


HOW fast you walk is just as important as how many steps you take in a day, research suggests.

Studies found walking 10,000 steps a day was linked to a lower risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and death.

But experts also found that a faster pace, like a power walk, showed benefits beyond the steps that were recorded.

Dr Matthew Ahmadi, co-lead author and research fellow at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health, said: “For protective health benefits, people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster.”

Borja del Pozo Cruz, associate professor from the University of Southern Denmark, who is also a senior researcher in health at the University of Cadiz, said: “For less active individual­s, our study also demonstrat­es that as low as 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25 per cent.”

According to the research, every 2,000 steps walked lowered the risk of premature death incrementa­lly by between 8 per cent and 11 per cent, up to approximat­ely 10,000 steps a day.

Similar links were seen for cardiovasc­ular disease and cancer incidence.

Walking 9,800 steps was the optimal daily amount, linked to a 50 per cent lower risk of dementia, but even doing just 3,800 steps cuts the risk by 25 per cent. Emmanuel Stamatakis, the study’s senior author and professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the University of Sydney, said: “Step count is widely used to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps, but rarely do people think about their pace.

“Findings could help develop effective public health programmes aimed at preventing chronic disease.”

The study, published in the journals Jama Internal Medicine and Jama Neurology, drew on data from the UK Bioank study to link up step count data from 78,500 adults aged 40 to 79 with health outcomes seven years on.

People wore a wrist accelerome­ter to measure physical activity for a minimum of three days out of a seven-day period, including a weekend day and during sleep periods.

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