How Many Steps Does it Take to Avoid a Heart Attack? Researchers Find Out

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Walking can lower your risk of having a heart attack, as any doctor will tell you. Now scientists have found out exactly how many steps it takes to keep you ticker healthy.

Even people who are at risk for diabetes can cut their risk for heart-related events like a heart attack or stroke by 8%.

In new research published in the journal Lancet, scientists report that among people with early signs of pre-diabetes, taking an extra 2,000 steps a day–the equivalent of 20 minutes of moderate-paced walking–helped them lower their chances of heart problems.

The research team looked at data from 9,306 adults from 40 countries participating in a trial called NAVIGATOR. All of the volunteers were assigned to a program to lose weight and exercise 150 minutes a week. They were given pedometers that they wore for a week at the beginning of the study, and again a year later.

Using statistical modeling, the researchers studied the association between the number of steps the participants took on average and their relative risk for heart events in that year, accounting for potentially confounding factors that could influence heart disease rates such as diet and the participants’ previous history of heart issues.

Two thousand steps seemed to be the magic number. Even before the study began, for every 2,000 steps a day one participant tended to walk on average compared to another, he enjoyed a 10% lower rate of heart problems by the end of the year. During the study year, there was an additional 8% lower risk of heart disease for every 2,000 steps walked a day. Here’s how the researchers explained the additive effect of walking:

If subject A took 4000 steps per day at the start of the study and did not change their activity levels over the next 12 months, and subject B took 6000 steps per day at the start of the study and increased their activity levels to 8000 steps per day over the next 12 months, by the end of the study (other things being equal) subject B would have an 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

That should be encouraging news to those who have added exercise to their daily routine. You don’t have to take your doctor’s word for it — now there’s pretty convincing data on exactly how much walking it takes to avoid heart disease.

19 comments
TummalapalliVenkateswaraRao
TummalapalliVenkateswaraRao

Many did not find any absolute truth for the reasons for Heart diseases, Many  findings of the individual research which may not correlate with other workers in the field. Many people who live a careless life live longer, those who are very conservative due early. and many times it is not possible to modify the life as per the science, and few can afford. A laborer who do not know anything lives happily up 9o years without any heart ailments,So research never ends  Dr.T.V.Rao MD

microflite
microflite

Another misleading headline  There's a big difference between "Avoiding a heart attack" as the headline claims, and a "10% reduction in the chances for an average person". Apparently any means are warranted to get you to click on the link and see the ads. "Journalistic Ethics" is an oxymoron these days.


ImJustSayin
ImJustSayin

Good day Alexandra,

Thanks for your article as I think that “in general”, it was a good one, however….

The title is (IMO) misleading in that the article is really about how many “extra” steps it takes to mitigate heart attack risk, vs. simply how many steps.

So although it is good that there is some quantification on “how many extra steps per day” it takes to mitigate heart attack risk, the article ostensibly hightlights that more exercise is better for you, which isn’t exactly a revelation.

The article (perhaps reflecting a shortcoming in the study?) also compares apples and oranges.Although the study uses a baseline of 150 minutes of exercise/week - and 4000 steps/day - it concludes that you need an additional 2000 steps/day for each 8% reduction in heart attack risk.The problem is that at the end of the study, subject B is up to 8000 total steps/day, which is now (using your 20 mins for each 2000 steps) 80 minutes of exercise (just stepping/walking) per day, or the equivalent of 560 minutes (7 x 80) per week vs. the 150 minute per week baseline – or 410 more minutes of exercise per week!

Said another way, sure, if a person exercises 80 minutes/day for 7 days a week, they’re on a fairly stout exercise program, and all else being equal – which it’s not given the variation of the genes we inherit that have a “lot” to do with how our overall healh plays out as we age – they will certainly be more fit and less susceptible to a heart attack. 

Respectfully offered,

Im

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

4,000 or 8,0000 steps per day will definitely lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Unlike yoga, walking and even jogging activates the body and helps us to avoid heart disease. Veggies cannot be assured of longevity. The typical example is the lifespan of Tamil Brahmins of India who are 100% vegetarians. The average age of this community is 51. Conversely, the Icelanders and Japanese are non-vegetarians who cannot relish their food without meat and fish. The lifespan of the Japanese and Icelanders is the longest in the world. Churchill who ate meat, drank heavily and smoked cigars lived up to the ripe age of 91. On the other hand, Indian swami and Yoga guru Vivekananda was a strict vegetarian and he died at the age of 40. What we know from this practical study is non-vegetarian food and exercise are good for longevity and good health instead of vegetarian food and Yoga.If yoga can arrest aging, why the lifespan of Indians is shorter than Americans? Yoga is only an ascetic formula to meditate in different postures (asanas), But taking 8000 steps every morning or  exercise in a gym rejuvenates biological age and makes a 60 year chronologically -old man look 35 years.

head.knuckle1
head.knuckle1

Go to your favorite gym and watch people fight for the parking space close to the door!


It's all about perception and reality. We have a lot of perception and little reality in our society.

wilmerdon
wilmerdon

And people go out of their way to avoid walking! Travelators at the airports!

The_Observer_7
The_Observer_7

I am just wondering why I don't see more people playing volleyball. This appears to be the perfect fun exercise to stay heart healthy.

KongBoHan
KongBoHan

@microflite Actually an 10% reduction (per 2K steps) is a statistically significant way to avoid a hear attack. Maybe you and the rest of the doubters should open your eyes to the positive message this article is bringing to the public.


thekind78
thekind78

@AbrahamYeshuratnam Vivekananda was no vegetarian...and you're comparing 19th century mortality to today. As a counter-example, T. Krishnamacharya was a strict vegetarian, the grandfather of all modern yoga and a centenarian.

RobertKroffey
RobertKroffey

The article didn't mention Yoga or Vegaterianism, you did. You seem to have a bent against these two lifestyles.  I don't do either so don't really care, but there would be obvious reasons besides the benefits of meat and fish in diets that would explain the low mortality rates of select groups in India.  Did you know India is a 3rd world country with horrible sanitation, food safety, healthcare and infrastructure?  And Japan and Iceland excel in all of those, that may be a start.  Correlation does not prove causation.  I'm pretty sure the average Indian walks farther than the average Japanese or Icelandic as well.

Mattski
Mattski

@head.knuckle1 I don't doubt that the walking does reduce the risk somewhat, but these walking programs, including the Fitbit devices, can lead people to believe that 2,000 (or even 10,000) steps per day is sufficient exercise. IMO, unless you're walking about 4 mph (near jogging), a few thousand steps a day isn't sufficient exercise. And if you'r'e doing it at a strolling pace, fuggetaboutit. Walking may be better than nothing, but let's not be misled into thinking it's enough exercise.

wilmerdon
wilmerdon

It's way too high on cardio vascular strength. Most people just don't have that level of fitness

microflite
microflite

@KongBoHan I'm just tired of being manipulated for the purpose of selling me things. This is the same thing a telling a lie - something that we would not tolerate from our kids, our friends or our family. Yet these marketing and sales and advertising people lie to us day in and day out and we sit back and take it like fools. At least I'm an adult and can see through this crap. I see my kids being snatched away from me and manipulated and very wrong ideas put in their head for the explicit purpose of sellng them things. This is just one more example of the same. 


I appreciate the people who did this study. I have an engineering background and understand that 10% is statistically significant. However, I deeply resent being told that 2000 steps will "avoid" heart attacks in the headline. This is simply dishonest and should not be whitewashed by the inherent good message in the article.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@thekind78 @AbrahamYeshuratnam  The age of Krishnamacharya was based on astrology, position of stars and planets, not on the basis of calendar era. Although his age would have been edited in line with Christian era, the earlier astrological assumption would have added more years. Anyway, it is an exception. With the discovery of Western medicine (not Indian ayurveid or siddha),  Krishnamacharya would have been protected from  silent killers such as stroke, blood pressure, diabetes  and helped him to live for more years.Besides, he would have taken  cow's milk, cheese and ghee which are also non-vegetarian products.
































AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@RobertKroffey If average Indian walks farther than the average Japanese or Icelandic as well, as alleged by you, why the lifespan of Indians is shorter than the Japanese and Icelanders? Although this article is about the number of steps to be taken for a healthy heart, the quality of food is also vital for arresting cardiovascular disease.

Chuts
Chuts

@MattskiYou're right about walking being not enough.  Just look at the show Biggest Loser.  It's the INTENSITY that counts.  I know some people who could spend an hour walking around in a Walmart store but wouldn't even do 10 minutes on a treadmill.

Mogwai
Mogwai

@Mattski

Actually walking is fine, "exercise" is not actually required because it is the sitting which is toxic and leads to death and disease. This is why Americans have the lowest life expectancy among the developing world. People in Europe live about 12 years longer (and many smoke). We (Americans) sit while driving to work. We sit at work while working on computers. We come home and sit while watching TV. There is a recent study in Australia which found that 1 hour of TV watching reduces life expectancy 20 minutes. Rememeber American long haul truck drivers have a life expectancy of only 61 years!

KD1
KD1

@Mattski Fitbit's default goal is 10,000 a day, and you can easily make it higher if you don't consider that high enough (I changed mine to 15,000, then 15,500, now 16,000, which I hope to move up again soon.)  I agree about pace though. I was a runner long before I got my fitbit, and no walking ever gives the workout of a run.