How many steps a day does it take to stay healthy? The key may be to simply walk more whenever possible, as every step may lead toward a longer, healthier life. Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference, held virtually in May 2021, showed that taking more steps each day, whether in one continuous exercise session or in numerous bouts throughout the day, is linked with longer life. This finding is based on data from 16,732 older women who wore accelerometers for 4–7 days between 2011 to 2015. Investigators then tracked deaths from any cause for an average of 6 years through December 31, 2019.

Data analysis revealed that the women who took more daily steps, regardless of the duration of each walk, lived longer. Although the “magic number” of steps needed is commonly cited as 10,000, this study found that 4,500 steps produced healthy results for longevity. Compared with no daily steps, each increase of 1,000 steps was associated with a 28% decrease in incidence of death. People who took more than 2,000 steps saw a 32% decrease in death risk, showing a clear inverse relationship between number of steps and longevity.

Limitations of the study included subjects being mostly non-Hispanic older white women, so more research is needed to determine if these results would hold true for younger women, men of any age and people from other ethnic groups.

See also: Are 10,000 Steps Necessary?