If you thought 10,000 steps always sounded like more of an epic quest than a casual stroll, researchers have good news for you.
A five-figure step count has often been the daily minimum recommended by experts to help keep fit and healthy.
But a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests the number needed to start seeing benefits is much lower.
Just 3,967 steps is enough to reduce the risk of dying from any cause, according to the findings – and it’s 2,337 to make you less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular disease.
Of course, the more steps the better – and the risk of dying decreases significantly with every 500 to 1,000 steps.
An increase of 1,000 steps a day was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of dying from any cause, and 500 more was linked to a 7% reduction in dying from cardiovascular disease.
Even if people walked as many as 20,000 steps a day, the health benefits continued to increase.
Benefits seen across genders and age groups
The analysis covered more than 226,000 people across 17 individual studies around the world.
Maciej Banach, professor of cardiology at Poland‘s Medical University of Lodz, said his team’s findings applied to women and men, irrespective of age and where they lived.
Participants, all of whom were generally healthy, took part in the research for an average of seven years.
Their average age was 64, with an almost 50-50 split between women and men.
Those aged 60 or older had a 42% reduction in risk of dying if they walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps a day, while there was a 49% reduction in risk in younger adults who walked between 7,000 and 13,000 steps.
Prof Banach said: “In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs to target specific conditions such as cardiovascular disease, we should always emphasise lifestyle changes might be at least as or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging lives.”
The findings, published by the European Society of Cardiology, have been peer-reviewed.