Field Work

Walk? Yes! But Not 10,000 Steps a Day

A few of my friends who’ve recently retired decided to start walking more, sometimes for an hour or more a day.

Seniors Walking Together at the Park

Becoming sedentary seems to be a danger in retirement, when life can slow down, and medical research has documented the myriad health benefits of physical activity. To enjoy the benefits from walking – weight loss, heart health, more independence in old age, and even a longer life – medical experts and fitness gurus often recommend that people shoot for 10,000 steps per day.

But what’s the point of a goal if it’s unrealistic? A Centers for Disease Control study that gave middle-aged people a pedometer to record their activity found that “the 10,000-step recommendation for daily exercise was considered too difficult to achieve.”

Here’s new information that should take some of the pressure off: walking about half as many steps still has substantial health benefits.

I. Min Lee at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tracked 17,000 older women – average age 72 – to determine whether walking regularly would increase their life spans. It turns out that the women’s death rate declined by 40 percent when they walked just 4,400 steps a day.

Walking more than 4,400 steps is even better – but only up to a point. For every 1,000 additional steps beyond 4,400, the mortality rate declined, but the benefits stopped at around 7,500 steps per day, said the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More good news in the study for retirees is that it’s not necessary to walk vigorously to enjoy the health benefits.

Squared Away writer Kim Blanton invites you to follow us on Twitter @SquaredAwayBC. To stay current on our blog, please join our free email list. You’ll receive just one email each week – with links to the two new posts for that week – when you sign up here. This blog is supported by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

3 Responses to Walk? Yes! But Not 10,000 Steps a Day

  1. Here, here! Diet fads come and go, and a variety of supplements that many of us take are of limited or no value. The one thing that has held up to careful study is that exercise is good for us – it helps the heart, the joints, the brain and the mood. I used to tell my patients that if the pharmaceutical companies had figured out how to patent exercise, it would cost you $50 to take a walk. For more, see, “What’s wrong with health care in America?”

  2. Jake Mallow says:

    I bought a special fitness band and make myself walk more than 10,000 steps. Although I’m only 29. Thanks for the article!

  3. bj says:

    Nice post – I love to hike for an hour an a half at the Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego…fortunately it’s near my home which makes it convenient. It is so hard today for women to maintain their weight due to job, hours, stress, family, hormones, etc. Please look at your labels when shopping and do not buy products with corn syrup of any kind, as they are harmful to your wellness and weight loss success…don’t take my word, just look it up and research for yourself.

Leave a Comment

Please read our Comments Policy before commenting.

*