Walking Steps to Preserve Life in Senior Women

How many steps does a senior woman have to walk in order to maintain health and preserve life? Many devices worn to measure the number of steps taken on a daily basis are pre-programmed to achieve a daily goal of 10,000 steps. However, no one has ever proven scientifically just how many steps really are needed to preserve life. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital decided to carry out a study to discover just how many steps a senior woman must walk a day to lower the risk of death. The results of their research were published May 29, 2019 in JAMA Internal Medicine.They discovered that as few as 4,400 steps a days had a significant 41% lower risk for death compared to women who only walked about 2,700 steps a day. Also, the risk of death continued to decrease as more steps were taken until around 7,500 steps a day when the rate became level. So it is not necessary for senior women to try to reach walking 10,000 steps a day to preserve life.

Walking Steps Study and Health Included Participants from the Women’s Health Study (WHS)

The walking steps study included participants from the Women’s Health Study (WHS), which was originally used to follow women who took daily low dose aspirin and Vitamin E to see how these would affect the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The walking steps study was carried out from 2011 to 2015 and included 16,741 senior women ages 62-101 (average mean age 72), who were given an ActiGraph accelerometer to wear on their hips all the time they were awake for seven days. Women removed them only during water-based activities or sleep. During a follow-up period of 4.3 years, 504 women died.


Questionnaires were used to determine weight, height, smoking status, alcohol use, postmenopausal hormone use, self-rated health status, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, cancer screening and family medical history. Dietary habits were measured by a 131-item food frequency questionnaire.

Stepping Intensity and All-cause Mortality

The researchers saw that those that walked more steps also walked more intensively. They concluded that the number of steps may be more significant than intensity of walking in this female senior population.

Previous Research

Previous research showed that the average number of steps walked by most Americans is about 4800 a day. Also, walking pace in previous studies was self-reported by the participants, whereas in this study walking steps were measured by a wearable accelerometer.


The researchers hope that these results will encourage many people living a sedentary lifestyle to get up and walk more, but it is not necessary to walk as much as 10,000 steps a day to lower the risk for death from all causes.

Importance of Physical Exercise for Good Health

This study give more evidence for the benefits of physical exercise for good health and lowering the risk for death. Women should walk at least 4,400 steps a day, but aim for up to 7,500 steps a day. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) on their Go4Life site recommends a 30 minute walk, but suggests that people start with a 10 minute walk and gradually increase the amount of walking every day until it is possible to walk for 30 minutes. In our blog post from November 16, 2018, we wrote about research that showed that higher amounts of Vitamin D the sunshine vitamin can improve the capacity to do physical exercise.

Choose a Rehab that puts a Lot of Emphasis on Physical Activity and Exercise

The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey, has a SMART Rehab Therapy gym with state-of-the-art equipment. Royal Suites is in a beautiful location surrounded by eight acres of woods and landscaped gardens. This is a great place for taking a nice walk!


Since walking has been found to be so beneficial for health and for lowering the risk for death from all causes, it pays to try to do some walking every day. Some walking is better than no walking.


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