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Published on: 12-Jul-2023

Walking is an easy form of exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere, and it offers multiple benefits – from weight loss and leg strengthening to heart health. The popularity of pedometers and health apps makes it easy to count steps and quantify the miles you’re walking, and a widely accepted benchmark for the most beneficial number of steps per day has been 10,000.

But is 10,000 truly the magic number of daily steps required for hear health? A 2023 Northwestern Medicine study found that older adults (people aged 60 and older) who walk 6,000 to 9,000 steps per day had a 40 to 50 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, compared to those who took only 2,000 steps per day. Those numbers equate to approximately 2.5 to 4 miles (depending on stride length).

This is encouraging for older adults who may not have the time or energy to reach the lofty 10,000-step goal each day. Study results showed that any amount of walking — from powerwalking to leisurely strolls — can improve heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults. It is commonly understood that a lack of physical activity increases the risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

How to Increase Your Daily Steps

For those looking to walk their way to better cardiovascular health, here are a few ways to easily increase the number of steps you take each day. And remember, it doesn’t matter if you walk slowly or need to take a break — every step counts,

  • Walk everywhere you can
  • Walk during a lunch break
  • Take the stairs vs. elevators or escalators
  • Park near the back of the parking lot
  • Take a walk after dinner each night
  • Walk around the house during TV commercial breaks
  • Start a neighborhood walking group
  • Incorporate walking into your commute

Walking offers a number of physical and mental health benefits, so start out slowly and before you know it, those steps will quickly add up.

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center