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Studies say it’s more than just how far you walk; it’s how fast you do it

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – If you’re like many people, one of the first things you do in the morning is strap on your wearable step tracker. Every now and then, you’ll check the device to see the number of steps you’ve taken. Once it reads 10,000, you’ll give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve hit your goal and another successful day goes down in the books. 

For most people, 10,000 steps is about 5 miles. For decades, this has been championed as the optimal daily distance needed for health benefits. According to new research, it’s not just about how far you walk, it’s also about how fast you do it. 

A team of researchers in Australia and the U.K. looked at step count data from 78,500 men and women between 40 and 79 years old and their health status over seven years. They found stepping intensity was more beneficial than total daily count when it came to lowering risks of dementia, heart disease, cancer, and death.

“The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits, people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day, but also aim to walk faster,” co-lead author, Dr. Matthew Ahmadi, said in a news release.

The studies were published in JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurology.