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  • Cameron Oglesby

How many steps a day are enough? Too many? Too few?

Conventional health wisdom recommends walking 10,000 steps a day to stave off the onset of dementia. An international study, based in Denmark with researchers from Australia, double-checked that assumption.

It followed 78,430 adults aged 40 to 79, drawn from the UK Biobank biomedical database. Selection was adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, education, smoking, alcohol use, diet, medications, sleep, and history of cardiovascular disease. Participants wore wrist accelerometers for nearly seven years, and researchers followed up by reviewing medical and death records for incidence of dementia nearly seven years afterwards.

One of the findings was that the famous 10,000 steps a day figure was slight overkill. “Our findings suggest that approximately 9,800 steps per day may be optimal to lower the risk of dementia,” wrote researchers in a paper published last week in JAMA Neurology.

Walking 9,800 steps a day, they found, cut dementia risk in half.. Anything beyond that – even the extra 200 steps for an even 10,000 – turned out to be past the point of diminishing returns.

Another, encouraging, finding was that even as few as 3,800 steps a day significantly cut dementia risks, by 25%.

How to walk turned out to be as important as how much. Walking about 6,300 “purposeful” steps a day decreased dementia risk by 57%. Purposeful walking is a pace of 112 steps per minute (a bit less than two per second); when maintained for at least 30 minutes, a 62% drop in dementia risk resulted.

One big non-medical factor in walking for your health is how much time you have each day for walking; 4,000 steps is about two miles, and at the “purposeful” pace of 112 steps a minute, that would take just about an hour to cover. The legendary 10,000 steps, around five miles, about two hours and a half – doable but already half of your morning or afternoon.

And this brings up an important point: life is about far more than medical risks and conditions. There are family and friends, hobbies and interests, chores and entertainment, emotions, values and preferences. As the word implies, our holistic approach to senior care management cares for clients as people, not just medical cases.

Based on our thorough, three-part needs assessment, we custom-design your coordinated care plan around your schedule, your values and priorities, your hobbies, your interests, your activities and your social life as well as your health needs.

Please contact us to learn more about how this can make the difference between living life as a person or just enduring it as a patient.

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