Extra steps can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke by 14% in older age

From expensive gym memberships to morning runs, exercise doesn’t always seem achievable. However, your cardiovascular system doesn’t only benefit when your T-shirt is soaked in sweat and your lungs suffocate. In fact, new research suggests that taking extra daily steps may be enough to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

After you retire, hobbies and free time will replace the daily work chaos.

However, you still need to stay physically active to protect your heart and good health.

While most types of exercise may seem overwhelming in everyday life, walking can bridge the gap between sedentary lifestyle and physical activity.

What’s more, according to a new study, people over 70 who walk just 500 extra steps a day can reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke by 14 percent.

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The equivalent of about a quarter of a mile of steps could be an “achievable” goal for the elderly, according to the researchers.

Adults who took about 4,500 steps a day had a 77% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, than those who took fewer than 2,000 steps a day.

Only about 3.5% of participants who took about 4,500 steps a day developed cardiovascular disease, compared to 11.5% of those who took less than 2,000 steps a day.

Lead researcher Dr Erin Dooley said: “Steps are an easy way to measure physical activity, and more daily steps have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults.

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“However, most studies have focused on early to middle-aged adults with daily goals of 10,000 steps or more, which may not be achievable for older adults.”

Participants were part of a larger study group of more than 15,700 adults originally recruited for the ongoing Community Atherosclerosis Risk Study (ARIC).

Analyzing information from 452 volunteers with a mean age of 78 who used a pedometer-like accelerometer that measured their daily steps, the research team assessed health data for any potential link between step count and cardiovascular disease.

The devices were worn for three or more days, for 10 or more hours a day, and the average number of steps was about 3,500 steps per day.

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During the 3.5-year follow-up period, about 7.5% of the participants experienced cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, or heart failure.

The results showed that every additional 500 steps per day gradually reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent.

Dr. Dooley said: “It’s important to stay physically active as you age, but daily step goals should also be achievable.

“We were surprised to find that each additional quarter mile or 500 walking steps has such a profound effect on heart health.

“While we don’t want to downplay the importance of higher-intensity physical activity, encouraging a small increase in daily steps also has significant cardiovascular benefits.

“If you’re an older person over 70, start by taking 500 more steps a day.”

The team added that further research is currently needed to determine whether a higher daily step count prevents or delays cardiovascular disease, or whether a lower step count could be an indicator of underlying disease.

The results were presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts.

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