How many steps do we have to take every day to consider that we are physically active? What should be the target? – Experts respond
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Smartphones, apps, and wearable devices have been in the “game” of evaluating our fitness for some years, measuring the steps we take every day, our heart rate and many more elements to provide us with a complete picture of our health.
But although there is a lot of data, most of us do not know how to use it, because we ignore the ‘success numbers’. For example, how many steps do we have to take every day to consider that we are physically active? What should be the target?
The best study to answer these questions was published in May 2019 by students at Harvard Medical School. During its duration, 17,000 elderly women (72 years old on average) wore a device that measured every step of the way as many hours as they were waking up in total for seven consecutive days.
The number of people who died over the next four years was compared between the four groups of participants, each of whom had an average serial number of steps per day: 2,718 steps (less active), 4,363 steps, 5,906 steps and 8,442 steps (more active). Strict statistical techniques were used to explain the degree of influence of data beyond the level of activity that could have altered the risk of death of women, such as the diseases they might have had.
The conclusion? About 7,500 steps a day is enough to reduce the risk of death by nearly 40% in the less active group. For steps more than 7,500 there was no clear additional benefit, nor did the intensity of the steps (such as the speed with which one walked) seemed to offer additional benefits. And although the study only included women of old age, it is reasonable to assume that the findings are also relevant to men of the same age.
Based on this and other studies, experts recommend moderate physical activity lasting at least five times a week. So if you’re consulting your smartphone about your fitness, aim at least 7,500 steps a day until new scientific data suggests otherwise.
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