Walking a kilometre a day 'can help the elderly live longer'
London - Taking as few as 2 100 steps a day in old age can help you live longer, research suggests.
A study of 6 000 women with an average age of 79 found that taking between 2 100 and 4 500 steps reduced the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease by 38 percent.
This was compared with those who did fewer than 2 100. Researchers said elderly women who walked more than 4 500 steps reduced their risk by 48 percent.
Just over 2 000 steps is the equivalent of a short stroll – around a kilometers
Cardiovascular disease covers strokes and problems to do with the heart. Experts have previously advised people from all age ranges to walk at least 10 000 steps a day.
Fitbit and other fitness trackers you wear like a watch on your wrist set a default goal of 10 000 steps. But health chiefs are increasingly concerned this seems out of reach for many people, especially the elderly.
Some just give up and do no exercise at all because such a high target seems unachievable. But now researchers from the University of California San Diego have found the 2 100 figure can make a marked difference.
Research leader Professor Andrea LaCroix said: "Despite popular beliefs, there is little evidence that people need to aim for 10 000 steps daily to get cardiovascular benefits from walking.
"Taking more steps [than normal] per day – even just a few more – is achievable. And step counts are an easy-to-understand way to measure how much we are moving. Being up and about, instead of sitting, is good for your heart."
It is believed the 10 000 steps figure originated in Japan in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Pedometers became popular in the country.
Since then 10 000 steps has become a common goal set by health groups across the world.