Taking 10,000 steps a day can prevent cancer and heart disease, study shows

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Taking 10,000 steps a day can prevent cancer and heart disease, study shows

A study published this Monday (12) in Jama (The Journal of the American Medical Association), a scientific journal of the Medical Association of the United States, indicated that taking 10,000 steps a day reduces the incidence of early death, as well as the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Between February 2013 and December 2015, 78,500 people in Biobank UK, a database linked to the British national health system, wore a bracelet to track their steps for 7 days.

The team analyzed data only from those individuals who wore the bracelet for three or more days, including periods of sleep and at least one weekend. Participants were mostly healthy women with a higher socioeconomic status.

After counting the total number of steps the participants took each day, the researchers classified them into two categories: less than 40 steps per minute, more than 40 steps per minute, or so-called “intentional” walking. A third category was created for those who took the most steps per minute in half an hour over the course of a day.

About seven years later, the researchers compared that data with medical records and found that people who took the most steps per minute showed the greatest reduction in their risk of cancer, heart disease and early death from any cause. These participants also had a lower BMI (body mass index), slept better – but also had no habits like smoking or drinking alcohol.

Over the course of follow-up, there were 10,245 cardiovascular disease events and 2,813 cancer incidents. The group recorded 1,325 deaths from cancer and 664 from cardiovascular disease.

According to the paper, “these findings are relevant to public health” because “while this is popular advice, the evidence to support the goal of 10,000 steps a day to improve health is scarce.” Until then, the available studies had a smaller number of participants, “which can make it difficult to assess associations, especially for less common events”.

Clinical oncologist and general medical director of the BP Oncology Center (Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo), Antônio Carlos Buzaid, highlighted that the study “is very large, the largest of all”.

“[Para nós,] it is nothing new that physical activity reduces the risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but this study is very robust.” Buzaid recalls that previous studies had already shown similar results, however, they were carried out with smaller numbers of people.

For BP cardiologist Alexandre Soeiro, although it does not bring anything new to the association between walking and the fight against cardiovascular diseases, the research goes against the popular imagination that it takes hours at the gym or great efforts to keep your health up to date.

“It does not contemplate that physical activity of necessarily going to the gym or making an intense effort like running or cycling. , says the doctor.

“If you walk to work faster, it’s better than walking through window shopping at the mall”, exemplifies oncologist Antônio Carlos Buzaid. The study shows that the greater intensity of walking offers an additional gain in quality of life.

The cardiologist at Hospital Alemão Oswaldo Cruz, Leandro Costa, says that having a practical measure for exercising such as 10,000 steps is one of the great gains of the study, in addition to reinforcing that “physical activity is beneficial in all scenarios”.

“There is great difficulty in quantifying the ideal physical activity, that is, how much the individual needs to do to actually have benefits”, he says.

Step counting is a more effective way to do this, according to the doctor. The cardiologist points out that most smartphones or smartwatches have step tracking in their systems, which can make counting possible.

He also recalls that, in terms of time, at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week is indicated to obtain better cardiovascular protection and reinforces that, according to the work, the greater the intensity of the walk, the greater the gain in quality of life for the individual.

To realize how intense the physical activity is, Leandro advises the individual to pay attention to speech.

“If he can speak a whole sentence without any kind of interruption in his breathing, this exercise is light. However, when the activity is moderate, the interruption in speech happens to allow ventilation to occur.” According to the doctor, this last intensity is the best to reinforce cardiovascular protection.

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