Walking between 6,000 to 9,000 steps daily may significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older adults, a new study has shown. According to the study published in the journal Circulation, researchers found that individuals walking between 6,000 to 9,000 steps daily had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, by 40 percent to 50 percent.
The study analyzed data from over 20,000 people in the US and 42 other countries, in which the average age was 63.2 years, plus or minus 12.4 years, with 52 percent being women, reports Medical News Today. The study found that for every 1,000 steps added, there was an incremental reduction in CVD risk.
"There was no upper limit at which there was no additional benefit in our study. Each incremental increase was associated with lower heart disease risk in older adults," said Dr Amanda Paluch, a physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist at the US-based University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The study discovered a progressive reduction in CVD risk for people who walked up to 15,000 steps per day. Moreover, the study suggests that people who want to reduce their risk of CVD should set goals that feel more attainable than the commonly cited 10,000-steps-a-day target, which is not based on scientific research. However, the study found no association between increasing one's steps and lowering CVD risk for younger adults.
Dr Paluch believes this is not surprising given that CVD is primarily a disease of the elderly. According to the study, only 4.2 percent of younger adults had a subsequent CVD event, compared to 9.5 percent of older adults. "This does not mean that younger adults shouldn't be exercising for their cardiovascular health," said Dr. Paluch.
"For younger adults, being physically active benefits many of the precursors of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are more likely to develop in younger adults, and are important for early prevention of cardiovascular disease," she added.