Association of step volume and intensity with all-cause mortality in older women

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. During the 4-year follow-up, women who averaged approximately 4,400 daily steps had significantly lower mortality rates than individuals who took less than 2,700 daily steps.
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Most individuals have heard about the recommendation to take 10,000 steps per day. However, the origin of this recommendation is unclear. Some believe that the recommendation comes from a Japanese company that sells pedometers called “Manpo-kei”, which translates to “10,000 steps meter” (1).

Peer-reviewed literature supporting the theory related to 10,000 steps is limited. Instead of providing a number, most literature provides a general supportive statement that reduces non-communicable diseases, mortality, and disability among individuals who take more steps compared to individuals who take fewer steps (1-4). The other piece that is uncertain is the impact of intensity (5). As physical therapists who treat older adults, we would assume that performing a walking program at a higher speed or intensity would promote improved health, especially when keeping in mind the association between gait speed and function, independence, disability, hospitalization, cognitive impairment, and mortality (6,7).

Due to these uncertainties, the authors of this paper aimed to look at two pieces: 1) the association between the number of daily steps and mortality rates; and 2) if the intensity of stepping is related to mortality.

The origin of the 10,000 steps per day recommendation is unclear.
Physical therapists should be prescribing physical activity that consists of at least 4,400 daily steps.


Participants: 17,466 community-dwelling older adult women.

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