Researchers offer a 7,000-step plan for longer life

Researchers offer a 7,000-step plan for longer life

It goes without saying that exercise offers outstanding health benefits. But we’re going to say it anyway. Physical activity keeps you trim, lowers blood pressure, increases cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, and even improves mental health. And we’re not talking about running a marathon. Walking will do fine.

Walking is obviously exercise. But a brief stroll around the block just won’t cut it. How many daily steps does it take to earn a longer life? The experts say many of us need to aim for 7,000.

A study led by a University of Massachusetts epidemiologist found that walking at least 7,000 steps a day reduced the risk of premature death in those who are in middle age by a whopping 50 to 70%. Middle age was defined as starting at age 38 and ending at 50.

Scientists analyzed data from 2,100 individuals and noted a gradual reduction in the risk of death as the number of steps walked increased. But walking beyond 10,000 per day didn’t seem to make any difference.

In fact, the common 10,000-step-a-day regimen followed by many people apparently isn’t based on any real science. Researchers say that goal emerged years ago from a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer. But if you want to walk more than 10,000 steps, go right ahead. No harm done.

While the study looked at the impact of walking during middle age, physicians say taking a daily stroll offers many benefits at any stage of life.

Did you know, for instance, that research has shown walking can curb your craving for chocolate and other sugary snacks?

Well, maybe we shouldn’t mention that. To those of us who love chocolate, losing that sweet tooth might be a step too far.

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