Daily step patterns and mortality Original paper

    In this cohort study, walking 8,000 steps or more on at least 1–2 days per week was associated with lower all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, compared with no days of walking 8,000 steps.

    This Study Summary was published on June 12, 2023.

    Quick Summary

    In this cohort study, walking 8,000 steps or more on at least 1–2 days per week was associated with lower all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, compared with no days of walking 8,000 steps.

    What was studied?

    The association between the frequency of reaching 8,000 daily steps (approximately 4 miles) and the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

    Who was studied?

    3,101 participants (average age of 50.5; 51% women, 49% men).

    How was it studied?

    This cohort study used data from the 2005–2006 survey cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in which the participants wore an accelerometer for 1 week. Walking patterns were characterized as reaching 8,000 steps on 0 days, 1–2 days, or 3–7 days per week.

    Mortality data through 2019 was analyzed to assess the incidence of mortality over a 10-year follow-up period. Adjustments were made for confounders such as age, sex, race and ethnicity, insurance status, smoking history, and health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and emphysema.

    What were the results?

    Walking 8,000 steps or more on 1–2 days per week was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, compared with no days of walking 8,000 steps.

    Although walking 3–7 days per week conferred additional benefits over 1–2 days, the protective effect appeared to plateau. When comparing the 0 days group to the other two groups, all cause mortality risk was 14.9% lower in the 1–2 days group and 16.5% lower in the 3–7 days group.

    The authors of this study concluded that substantial health benefits can be achieved with only 1–2 days per week of 8,000 steps or more.

    Anything else I need to know?

    The authors of this study cautioned that there are some limitations to consider when interpreting these results. The accuracy of accelerometer data is not well established, and the steps taken by people with obesity may be underreported. Wearing the accelerometer may also have prompted more walking in people who are healthy but otherwise physically inactive, leading to a bias in which healthy inactive people could be inappropriately classified as active.

    This Study Summary was published on June 12, 2023.