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Older adults who are the least active have the ‘most to gain’ by walking more, researchers say

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Some older adults can cut their risk of a cardiovascular event by as much as half by upping their total daily steps, researchers are saying after their recent study that adds to the growing body of research showing the health benefits of walking.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts looked at data from eight other studies that involved more than 20,000 adults from the United States and 42 other countries. Participants wore devices that measured their number of steps and were followed – for an average of six years – to see if they had any cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or stroke.

Findings show that, compared with the participants over the age of 60 who took 2,000 steps a day, those in the same age group who registered 6,000-9,000 steps a day had a 40%-50% reduced risk of a cardiovascular event.

“The people who are the least active have the most to gain,” said study author Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UMass. “For those who are at 2,000 or 3,000 steps a day, doing a little bit more can mean a lot for their heart health. If you’re at 6,000 steps, getting to 7,000 and then to 8,000 also is beneficial, it’s just a smaller, incremental improvement.”

The study was published online in the journal Circulation.

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