Walking: Does the number of steps or speed matter more for health?

Walking: Does the number of steps or speed matter more for health?

A study tries to shed some light on the health benefits of walking. And on the age-old question: does the number of steps or speed matter more?

Eugenio Spagnuolo

– Milan

Having broken the myth of 10 thousand daily steps, given that according to recent scientific research even a few less are enough, scientists and physiologists have begun to focus on the characteristics that walking must have to return a series of benefits to the body. Hence the question: Does it matter more the number of steps or the speed?

Fast walking: number of steps or speed? I study

To ask, among others, the authors of a study published a few days ago in the journal JAMA Internal Medicinewho monitored 78,500 people aged 40 to 79 from England, Scotland and Wales, using wrist pedometers for one week, 24 hours a day.

After counting the total number of steps of each participant, the researchers divided them into 3 categories: less than 40 steps per minute (the speed of walking when, for example, we go from one room to another), more than 40 steps per minute (the so-called “intentional” walk) and a third category reserved for those who had done the greater number of steps per minute in 30 minutes throughout the day. Seven years later, by comparing that data with medical records, the team found that people who took more steps per minute – in this case, about 80 steps per minute – showed a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. “This could be related to specific pathways through which physical activity is beneficial – it can generate more muscle, a bigger heart and better fitness, all known protective factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer and other health problems as well.” one of the researchers admitted in an interview.

The benefits of brisk walking

The same research team, a few months ago, published a similar study, according to which taking 10,000 steps a day reduces the risk of dementia by 50%. However, walking at a fast pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes maximizes the walking effect, leading to a 62% reduction in the same risk. And the 30-minute brisk walk doesn’t have to happen all at once, but it can be spread across the day. “Our view is that the intensity of the steps also counts beyond the quantity,” comment the researchers.

Conclusions

In short, the approximately 10 thousand steps a day remain the frontier of daily well-being. But the rule admits some exceptions. “Because the relative energy cost of walking and other daily activities is higher in the elderly than in the young, the observed benefits of daily step counts may vary depending on the interaction between stride intensity and age,” it reads. in the studio. “So, a single step counting recommendation may not be appropriate for all adults.” And it is also true that walking at a faster pace for short periods can increase the benefits of the same walk. So, the answer to the question “in walking does it matter more the number of steps or the speed?” is … both.



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