Seniors Over 70 Need To Walk An Extra 500 Steps Daily To Lower Risk Of Stroke And Heart Failure

Hearthside Senior Living

A recent study has revealed that senior citizens can significantly reduce their risk of heart trouble by increasing their daily step count. Researchers found that for every additional 500 steps taken per day, the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, decreases.

When comparing adults who took less than 2,000 steps per day to those who achieved approximately 4,500 steps per day, the latter group exhibited a remarkable 77 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events. Over the course of the 3.5-year study period, only about 3.5 percent of the participants who reached the 4,500-step threshold suffered from a cardiovascular event. In contrast, 11.5 percent of individuals who took fewer than 2,000 steps per day experienced such events.

“Steps are an easy way to measure physical activity, and more daily steps were associated with a lower risk of having a cardiovascular disease-related event in older adults,” lead researcher Dr. Erin Dooley, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama, said.

“Most studies have focused on early-to-midlife adults with daily goals of 10,000 or more steps, which may not be attainable for older individuals.”

A group of more than 15,700 adults, who were originally recruited for the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, participated in a comprehensive research project. The objective was to examine the potential link between daily step counts and cardiovascular disease.

The study focused on 452 participants, with an average age of 78, who utilized a hip-worn accelerometer device similar to a pedometer to track their daily steps. The devices were worn for a minimum of three days, with each day comprising at least 10 hours of wear. On average, the participants recorded approximately 3,500 steps per day.

During the follow-up period of 3.5 years, 7.5 percent of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease event, including conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, or heart failure.

Upon analyzing the data, the research team discovered that individuals who took around 4,500 steps per day, which was roughly a quarter-mile more in distance, had a 77 percent lower risk of encountering a cardiovascular event, compared to those who took less than 2,000 steps per day.

Among older adults who walked less than 2,000 steps per day, approximately 12 percent experienced a cardiovascular event. In contrast, only 3.5 percent of the participants who walked about 4,500 steps per day suffered such an event.

Furthermore, each additional 500 steps taken per day exhibited a gradual association with a 14 percent decrease in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

“We were surprised to find that every additional quarter of a mile, or 500 steps of walking, had such a strong benefit to heart health,” Dooley said to the American Heart Association.

“While we do not want to diminish the importance of higher intensity physical activity, encouraging small increases in the number of daily steps also has significant cardiovascular benefits,” she also said.

“If you are an older adult over the age of 70, start with trying to get 500 more steps per day.”

The findings that she made were presented last month at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts.