Just 7500 steps a day could help older women live longer, study finds

New research has found 7500 steps a day to be the sweet spot for older women.
New research has found 7500 steps a day to be the sweet spot for older women.

Ten thousand is often touted as the golden number of steps required in a day to live a healthy life.

It’s a goal many Kiwis don’t reach, with one survey from the Ministry of Transport highlighting 80 per cent of respondents don’t walk more than 100 metres a day.

But new research has found the sweet spot to be significantly lower, especially for older women wanting to live longer.

The study – published in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers from Harvard Medical School – found just 7500 steps a day, for women aged over 70, could cut their risk of death.

For those who might not be able to clock that amount, researchers also found those who took 4400 steps a day had lower mortality rates than those who took only 2700.

“This large study of device-assessed steps and all-cause mortality among older women showed that an average of approximately 4400 steps was significantly associated with lower mortality rates compared with approximately 2700 steps,” the study’s authors wrote.

The study examined over 18,000 women from the US with an average age of 72, and tracked their walking patterns through wearable devices.

From 2011 to 2015, researchers set out to uncover how many steps a day are associated with lower mortality rates and if the intensity of those steps is at all related.

However, they found only the number of steps to correlate with lower mortality, as opposed to the intensity.

They explained the issue with the 10,000 step goal is that it has “limited scientific basis”.

“The origin of the goal of 10,000 steps per day is unclear.”

The authors of the study believe the goal could have derived from the trade name of a pedometer sold in 1965 by a Japanese company.

The pedometer was called Manpo-kei, “which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’ in Japanese”.

It’s hoped these findings will act as “encouragement” for some who find the prospect of taking 10,000 steps a day an “unattainable goal”.