New research published in the journal Circulation has shown that more steps per day lead to a progressively lower risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults.
The meta-analysis included eight studies with over 20,000 adult participants in total. Participants’ steps were measured using activity-tracking devices, and cardiovascular disease events among participants were monitored with a mean follow-up time of 6.2 years.
For adults over 60 years old, more steps per day were associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease events. Those getting the fewest steps per day could get the greatest heart benefits from increasing their step count, but increasing step counts were observed to be beneficial to the heart at all activity levels.
No association between step count and heart disease was observed in younger adults (below age 60), but the authors noted that this is likely because heart disease generally only develops as we age. Younger adults are more likely to see improvements in weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar as a result of greater step counts, which is a potential area of future study. These factors are precursors to heart disease that tend to develop in younger people.
Previous research by the authors of the study has linked increased activity with longevity among older adults; they found that walking 6,000–8,000 steps per day was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause in adults over 60. Exercise is a vital component of maintaining and improving heart health, and even small daily changes can lead to major long-term benefits. To begin with, simple steps like taking 10-minute walking breaks throughout the day or parking farther from the grocery store can add up to considerable improvements in heart health.
Sources: Circulation, Science Daily