People over 70 who walk just an extra 500 steps a day lower their risk of heart failure or a stroke by 14 percent, according to a new study.
Compared to those who took less than 2,000 steps per day, adults who took around 4,500 steps per day had a 77 percent lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.
Only about 3.5 percent of the participants who took around 4,500 steps per day suffered a cardiovascular event, compared to 11.5 percent of those who took less than 2,000 steps per day, over the 3.5-year study period.
Lead researcher Dr. Erin Dooley said: “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.
“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.”
Participants were part of a larger study group of more than 15,700 adults originally recruited for the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
The research team evaluated health data for any potential association between daily step counts and cardiovascular disease.
They analyzed information from 452 participants with an average age of 78 who used an accelerometer device similar to a pedometer, worn at the hip, that measured their daily steps.
Dr. Dooley, an Assistant Professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, explained that the devices were worn for three or more days, for 10 or more hours, and the average step count was about 3,500 steps per day.
Over the 3.5-year follow-up period, 7.5per cent of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease event, such as coronary heart disease, stroke or heart failure.
The analysis found that, compared to adults who took less than 2,000 steps per day, those who took around 4,500 steps each day had a 77 percent lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event.
Nearly 12 percent of older adults with less than 2,000 steps per day suffered a cardiovascular event, compared to 3.5 percent of the participants who walked about 4,500 steps per day.
Every additional 500 steps taken per day was incrementally associated with a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Dooley 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.”
She added: “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.”
Dr. Dooley said further research is needed to determine if meeting a higher daily count of steps prevents or delays cardiovascular disease, or if lower step counts may be an indicator of underlying disease.
The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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