Walking Around 10,000 Steps Per Day May Reduce the Risk of Dementia

A new study suggests that adults who take just under 10,000 steps per day have a lower risk of dementia. The findings were reported today in JAMA Neurology.

In this UK-based cohort study, researchers assessed 78,430 adults between the ages of 40 and 79 (average age, 61, 45% male, 55% female). The population of interest were analyzed based on accelerometer-derived daily step count, which they broke down by: incidental steps (less than 40 steps per minute), purposeful steps (40 steps or more per minute), and peak 30-minute cadence (the average steps per minute recorded for the 30 highest minutes per day). The primary endpoint of interest was incidence of dementia, which researchers procured via inpatient hospitalization or primary care records. The study was conducted from February 2013 to December 2015.

The Importance of Physical Activity

According to the results, there was an association between daily steps and a lower risk of dementia. The researchers observed that optimal step count was 9,826 steps (hazard ratio [HR]=0.49; 95% CI, 0.39-0.62) and the minimal step count (eg, exposure value at which the risk reduction was 50% of the observed maximum risk reduction) was 3,826 steps (HR= 0.75; 95% CI, 0.67-0.83).

Specifically, the ideal incidental cadence step count was 3,677 steps (HR=0.58; 95% CI, 0.44-0.72), the purposeful cadence optimal step count was 6,315 steps (HR=0.43; 95% CI, 0.32-0.58), and the peak 30-minute cadence optimal dose was 112 steps per minute (HR=0.38; 95% CI, 0.24-0.60).

“The findings suggest that a dose of just under 10,000 steps per day may be optimally associated with a lower risk of dementia. Steps performed at higher intensity resulted in stronger associations,” the researchers concluded.