Struggle to find time for your 10,000 steps? We have good news | Tech News

It’s not always easy to fit 10,000 steps a day into busy lives (Picture: Getty)

‘Every step counts’ is the message from new research studying the effects of movement on health – even if you don’t hit 10,000.

Previous studies have shown a link between higher step counts and lower levels of death and cardiovascular disease (CVD), while scientists have also shown an association between spending too long sitting down with increased risks of CVD and death.

And for many decades, 10,000 steps has been seen as the ultimate goal for those hoping to undo the effects of our modern sedentary lifestyle – even though the figure was invented to help market a pedometer.

Nevertheless, that five-figure target remains a goal for many, but unachievable for others.

Now, scientists from the University of Sydney in Australia have found increasing your step count by any amount can help counteract the effects of sitting too long.

The team used data from more than 72,000 individuals in the UK Biobank study with an average age of 61, measuring step count and time spent sedentary – sitting or lying down while awake– using a wrist-worn accelerometer over seven days.

Modern life means many hours sitting down for most of us (Picture: Getty)

The average step count was 6,222 a day, and the average time spent sitting was 10.6 hours a day. Spending more than 10.5 hours a day sitting was classed as high sedentary time.

The researchers then followed the participants for several years, during which time there were 1,633 deaths and 6,190 cardiovascular disease events.

After adjusting for external factors such as existing poor health, age, sex, smoking status, alcohol consumption and diet, the team found that the ideal number of steps per day to counteract the effects of high sedentary time is between 9,000 and 10,000. That figure lowered the risk of death by 39% and cardiovascular disease risk by 21%.

The more steps, the better (Picture: Getty)

However, hitting just 4,500 steps a day showed 50% of the benefits from the higher number, while the authors concluded that increasing daily steps by any amount above the baseline of 2,200 a day could help combat sitting.

‘This is by no means a get out of jail card for people who are sedentary for excessive periods of time,’ said lead author Dr Matthew Ahmai. 

‘However, it does hold an important public health message that all movement matters and that people can and should try to offset the health consequences of unavoidable sedentary time by upping their daily step count.’

Senior author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis added: ‘Step count is a tangible and easily understood measure of physical activity that can help people in the community, and indeed health professionals, accurately monitor physical activity. 

‘We hope this evidence will inform the first generation of device-based physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines, which should include key recommendations on daily stepping.’

The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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