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Daily Target Steps To Reduce Risk Of Heart Failure

4 months, 3 weeks ago

4952  0
Posted on Feb 27, 2024, 1 p.m.

Movement is great for our bodies at any age, but how much physical activity is beneficial for people over the age of 60 has been a topic of discussion. Previously it was suggested that 10,000 steps a day was the ideal target, but more recent research, such as this one published in JAMA Cardiology from the University at Buffalo indicates that that number is high.

This observational study of nearly 6000 women between the ages of 63 to 99 investigated accelerometer-measured physical activity, sedentary time, and heart failure risk. Participants wore activity trackers on their hips for 7 consecutive days, except for when in water, to monitor physical activity. The analysis revealed that on average, 3600 steps/day at a normal pace was associated with 26% lower risks of developing heart failure.

During the mean follow-up of 7.5 years, there were 407 physician-confirmed cases of heart failure.  On average the risk of developing heart failure was 12% lower for every 70 minutes per day spent on light activities, and it was 16% lower for every 30 minutes spent on moderate to vigorous intensity activities. However, on average, for every 30 minutes spent on sedentary time was associated with a 17% increased risk of experiencing heart failure. 

"In ambulatory older women, higher amounts of usual daily light and moderate intensity activities were associated with lower risk of developing heart failure with preserved ejection fraction independent of demographic and clinical factors associated with heart failure risk," says the study's lead author Michael J. LaMonte, PhD, research professor of epidemiology and environmental health in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions. "Accumulating 3,000 steps per day might be a reasonable target that would be consistent with the amount of daily activity performed by women in this study."

This study looked at two subtypes of heart failure, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), and a similar pattern of low risk with more light and moderate intensity regular activity, and a higher risk with prolonged sedentary time was also seen for HFpEF. 

"This is a major, unique finding of our study because there is very little published data on physical activity and HFpEF, so we are providing new information upon which other studies can build," LaMonte says.

"More importantly, HFpEF is the most common form of heart failure seen in older women and among racial and ethnic minority groups, and at present there are few established treatment options, which makes primary prevention all the more relevant for HFpEF. The potential for light intensity activities of daily life to contribute to the prevention of HFpEF in older women is an exciting and promising result for future studies to evaluate in other groups, including older men," LaMonte adds.

Encouraging people to be more active, especially older adults as part of healthy aging is sound advice that is well supported by a mountain of scientific evidence. For some perspective, the average American women of similar age to those in the study take around 2340 steps/day and these participants took on average 3588 steps/day. This study adds to that evidence revealing that the risk of heart failure, including HFpEF significantly decreased at 2500 steps/day, and when standardized to 3600 steps/day there was a 25-30% lower risk of heart failure and HFpEF. 

"It appeared that intensity of stepping did not influence the lower risk of heart failure as results were comparable for light intensity steps and for more vigorous steps," says LaMonte.

"Our results showing heart failure prevention in older women might be enhanced through walking around 3,000 steps or so per day at usual pace is very relevant given the current emphasis at the federal level on identifying an amount of daily physical activity that can be referenced against steps per day for cardiovascular health and resilience to incorporate in future public health guidelines."

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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