By now, we should all have heard the main recommendation to avoid a sedentary lifestyle: try to make sure you walk at least 10,000 steps a day. It is a great habit whose benefits are more than documented.

However, there are perhaps more important aspects to look at. And it is that the largest study to date on this issue has concluded that a faster pace It is more decisive than the step count in the positive effects that walking has on our health.

Appreciable benefits with fewer steps

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As published by these authors, attached to the University of Sydney (Australia) and the University of Southern Denmark, in the academic environment JAMA Internal MedicineIndeed, walking 10,000 steps reduces the risk of dementia, heart disease and cancer, as well as dying prematurely. Not only that, but these benefits begin to be noticeable with even lower counts.

As few as 3,800 steps, according to the study, would already be associated with 25% less likely to develop dementia. Above that, every additional 2,000 steps further reduces that risk, by between 8 and 11%. The effects on the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease, as well as the risk of dying prematurely, were similar.

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To achieve a 50% reduction in the risk of dementia it was necessary to walk 9,800 steps a day. However, one of the most remarkable aspects is that increases in the pace or intensity of strides were associated with greater reductions in the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia or dying prematurely than increasing the number of steps.

Better go faster and faster

To obtain these results, the researchers used data from the study UK Biobank of 78,500 adults between 40 and 79 years of age, including step counts and information on health status. In addition, those people who already had one of the diseases studied at the beginning of the follow-up were excluded and factors that could lead to confounding were taken into account.

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An important point, they clarify, is that it is not intended to replace the step count recommendation. This measure, they say, is easy to understand and put into practice, especially thanks to the ubiquity of devices such as the mobile capable of carrying out an approximate count of steps.

Rather, people should set the goal of 10,000 steps and also try to walk faster than you normally would to ensure you get those extra benefits.


del Pozo Cruz B, Ahmadi MN, Lee I, Stamatakis E. Prospective Associations of Daily Step Counts and Intensity With Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 12, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.4000