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Racking up 4,400 steps a day can ‘protect’ against serious illness

Walking 4,400 steps a day, rather than aiming for the 10,000 steps, may be enough to reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, experts have claimed.

Exercise can improve conditions like type 2 diabetes and while 10,000 steps a day is often championed, a review into the benefits of different levels of physical activity has found the goal might be overkill.

Dr Lindsay Bottoms, a exercise and health physiology expert from the University of Hertfordshire, points to recent research by Harvard Medical School, which found that on average, walking 4,400 steps per day can significantly lower the risk of death in women, compared to only walking 2,700 steps a day.

Dr Bottoms has examined research into the merits of walking 10,000 steps a day, a goal that originates from a marketing campaign.

She said: “The 10,000-steps-a-day target seems to have come about from a trade name pedometer sold in 1965 by Yamasa Clock in Japan.

“The device was called ‘Manpo-kei’, which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’. This was a marketing tool for the device and has seemed to have stuck across the world as the daily step target. It’s even included in daily activity targets by popular smart watches.”

Dr Bottoms acknowledges that walking 10,000 steps a day is good for your health but highlights research by the Harvard team which found the effect of walking on reducing the risk of dying tended to level off at round 7,500 steps a day.

Dr Bottoms said: “Although it’s uncertain whether similar results would be seen in men, it’s one example of how moving a little bit more daily can improve health and lower risk of death.”

Walking each day can also help to mitigate the effects of sitting down all day. Research from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo found that 60-75 minutes of moderately intense activity can help mitigate the effects of sitting for eight hours a day.

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