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Over 70? Walking 500 More Steps a Day May Extend Your Life, New Study Says

Walking can be an incredibly fun workout, but did you know it may also lengthen your lifespan?

Walking is a fun form of exercise that's pretty popular. After all, it's incredibly convenient to squeeze into your daily routine and so much fun to get a workout in while catching up with a friend (or even a group of walking buddies). But if you're over 70 years of age, do you know that by walking just 500 more steps each day, you may extend your life? You heard that right—a new study says so! Read on to hear more, and next, don't miss The Best Indoor Cardio Workouts To Increase Stamina as You Age.

Research shows that taking an extra 500 steps each day may extend your life.

active senior couple walking outdoors

The American Heart Association recently performed a study on individuals 70 years of age and older. The research revealed that walking an extra 500 steps each day, which is equivalent to one-quarter extra mile, is linked to a 14% decrease in heart failure, stroke, or heart disease. So essentially, you may extend your life by raking in more daily steps. Pretty remarkable, don't you think?

According to Erin E. Dooley, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health and lead researcher of the study, "Steps are an easy way to measure physical activity, and more daily steps were associated with a lower risk of having a cardiovascular disease-related event in older adults." Dooley adds, "However, 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 individuals."

The Best Cardio Exercises To Boost Your Endurance as You Age

Walking five hundred steps daily was associated with a 14% decreased risk of enduring cardiovascular disease.

The individuals who participated in the research partook in a larger group study consisting of 15,792 adults who were being observed for a continuing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The current research assessed data from the ARIC study with the connection of cardiovascular disease and daily steps in mind.

A pedometer sort of device was worn by the 452 participants to monitor daily steps taken. Of the participants, 59% were female. Members of the group wore their devices for a minimum of 10 hours over a span of at least three days. The average daily step count was 3,500. Throughout the follow-up period, which occurred 3.5 years following the study, 7.5% of the participants had a cardiovascular disease event occur, including heart failure, stroke, or heart disease.

In conclusion, participants who stepped around 4,500 each day were observed to experience a 77% decreased chance of enduring a cardiovascular event. Approximately 12% of participants who stepped less than 2,000 each day suffered from a cardiovascular event, compared to a mere 3.5% of participants who took around 4,500 steps per day. Every 500 steps walked daily was associated with a 14% decreased chance of experiencing cardiovascular disease.

Dooley points out, "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."

More research is necessary to learn if a higher step count slows down or helps to avoid cardiovascular disease, or whether fewer steps taken can indicate an underlying disease.

Follow "Life's Essential 8" to give your cardiovascular health a boost.

The American Heart Association recommends "Life's Essential 8" to boost your cardiovascular health, which includes leading an active lifestyle, sleeping enough each night, consuming healthy food, not smoking, keeping up a healthy weight, and controlling your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Cardiovascular disease is a killer. According to the American Heart Association, more people die each year in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease than every form of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease together.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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