Walk and Live Longer?

Senior couple powerwalking
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Does walking increase your longevity? Studies have found associations between walking more and living longer.

Take 3000 More Steps per Day to Live Longer

Put on your Fitbit, get out of the recliner and start stepping your way to a longer life. A study of over 2500 middle-aged Australians found that increasing their pedometer steps per day from a sedentary level to 10,000 steps per day reduced their mortality risk by 40% The findings seemed to be linear - walk more, live longer.

Adding 3000 steps per day, the equivalent of 1.5 miles or walking for 30 minutes, reduced risk of a premature death by 12% The study followed the participants over a 15 year period.

Previously, the Honolulu Heart Study followed the health and activity of 8000 men over 12 years. The study found that walking just two miles a day cut the risk of death almost in half. The walkers' risk of death was especially lower from cancer. Those who walked infrequently were about 2 1/2 times more likely to die of cancer than were the two-mile-a-day men. These were men age 60 and above who appeared in good enough health to be able to walk. Those who walked were less likely to die in the 12 years that followed.

Using a pedometer can motivate you to walk more, and it also objectively measures whether you're walking as much as you think you are. It's a good tactic to use if you have been inactive and you want to get started and keep going.

Great Health Effects of Walking

Walking and other kinds of exercise probably protect the heart and circulatory system by raising HDL, the good cholesterol, and keeping weight down. Experts suspect it may help prevent cancer by beneficial effects on the immune system and hormone levels, among other things.

Walking also contributes to "regularity" which in turn reduces the risk of colon cancer. Studies show walking and other moderate-intensity exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer. See our other articles on walking and disease prevention.

Water and Exercise Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

Drink up and get moving, a study in Taiwan found 83% less colorectal cancer in men who exercise as opposed to sedentary men. They found no effect in women, but that may be because women in Taiwan are rarely sedentary as they do plenty of hard housework.

Moderate Exercise Benefits the Heart

You don't have to feel the burn. Just 30 minutes a day of walking brings as much risk reduction for heart attack as a high-intensity exercise program, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Safe Exercising as You Age and with Health Conditions

If an injury has you sidelined, visit the Sports Medicine site for advice. As usual with any advice seen on the web, check it against common sense and your own health care provider's advice.

Arthritis and diabetes are common conditions many people develop as they age. Walking is usually recommended as a way to keep active and manage the disease.

Talk with your doctor about any modifications to your medications or recommendations based on your situation. Then get started.

Encourage the ones you love to get out and walk regularly so they will be around longer. Stay healthy and stay on the trail and you will be able to join our Senior Honor Roll.


Dwyer T, Pezic A, Sun C, Cochrane J, Venn A, Srikanth V, et al. (2015) Objectively Measured Daily Steps and Subsequent Long Term All-Cause Mortality: The Tasped Prospective Cohort Study. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0141274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141274

Amy A. Hakim, et. al. "Effects of Walking on Mortality among Nonsmoking Retired Men." New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 338:94-99, January 8, 1998, Number 2.

Tang R, Wang JY, Lo SK, Hsieh LL. "Physical activity, water intake and risk of colorectal cancer in Taiwan: a hospital-based case-control study. International Journal of Cancer. 1999 Aug 12;82(4):484-9.

Rozenn N. Lemaitre; David S. Siscovick; Trivellore E. Raghunathan; Sheila Weinmann; Patrick Arbogast; Dan-Yu Lin. "Leisure-Time Physical Activity and the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest." Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999; 159:686-690

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