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Benefiting From a 10-Minute Daily Power Walk Can Prolong Your Lifespan

With the notion of achieving 10,000 steps a day now proven to lack substantial evidence as the gold standard for enhancing fitness (TL;DR: the scientific backing is weak—and honestly, it hinges on what defines a fit individual), many individuals are asking: How many steps a day should we actually aim for to maintain good health? When it comes to living a longer life, recent research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has shed some light on the benefits of power walking for overall longevity.

This extensive study monitored 47,000 participants over a span of seven years and delved into the effects of power walking on mortality rates using accelerometers to monitor physical activity. Of the individuals observed, 53 percent were women, and among the discoveries made, the study unveiled a key finding about the amount of power walking required to experience the advantages of a longer life.

And the results are in: The study suggested that just by incorporating an extra 10 minutes of power walking into our daily routines, we could prevent over 111,000 deaths each year. Essentially, if you are currently not engaging in any walking, dedicating just 10 minutes to it can initiate a life-extending process. For those already engaging in walks, an additional 10 minutes at a brisker pace is necessary to reap the benefits.

Furthermore, augmenting moderate-to-high intensity physical activity by 10, 20, or 30 minutes daily was linked to a decrease of 6.9 percent, 13 percent, and 16.9 percent in annual mortality rates, respectively. This implies that even short, brisk walks during lunch breaks can significantly impact your health and well-being.

Just as a reminder, as Eli Friedman, MD, the medical director of sports cardiology at Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explained: “Power walking shares similarities with regular walking but is executed with more vigor and at a faster pace. It involves an increase in the number of strides per minute and may engage the upper body, particularly the arms, to propel the body forward. Individuals may notice elevated breathing and accelerated heart rate while power walking.”

For those keen on a precise step count, here’s a breakdown: “For individuals aged 60 and above, the optimal range for mortality reduction is between 6,000 to 8,000 steps daily, while for those under 60, the range widens to 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day,” as noted by functional medicine practitioner Mark Hyman, MD, in an Instagram post referencing the research. To put it into perspective, roughly 2,250 steps make up a mile, meaning you need to walk around three miles to hit the mark. (10,000 steps equaling approximately five miles.)

For those whose primary fitness aim is longevity, gradually working up to these daily step counts would be ideal to maximize life expectancy. However, even for those with different goals, every minute truly matters, which is why adding a vigorous extra 10 minutes to your walk remains a positive step towards a healthier future.

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