A study about daily step goals co-authored by David Bassett, head of the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies at UT, is among the most discussed and shared of 2019 according to Altmetric, a data science company that tracks where published research appears online.
Bassett, whose research focuses on the accuracy of step-counting devices, provided context on how step counts from the research-grade device used in the study compare to other devices such as the Fitbit.
“A daily goal of 10,000 steps per day has received a lot of attention in the lay press,” Bassett said. “However, there is little scientific justification for this goal. Our study was important in showing that 10,000 steps per day are not necessary for good health for all individuals.”
Researchers asked a subgroup of older women to wear a step counting device for one week. Data was obtained from approximately 17,000 women, with an average age of 72. Several years later, a follow-up was conducted to determine the women’s longevity.
“The women were categorized into different groups based on the mean number of steps per day,” Bassett said. “Results showed that women who averaged 4,400 steps per day had a lower risk of dying compared to the least active women averaging 2,700 steps per day.”
As steps per day increased the mortality rate decreased before leveling at 7,500 steps per day. These results are encouraging for older people who might find a goal of 10,000 steps per day to be daunting.
The researchers also examined the relationship between cadence, or step rate, and mortality. However, no additional benefit was seen for stepping faster after adjusting for the total number of steps taken each day.
According to Altmetric, the study was cited in 16 research publications and more than 200 news stories in outlets. It was 48th in the company’s annual top 100 list.
“Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women” was published in May 2019 by JAMA Internal Medicine, a monthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Medical Association. The research was led by I-Min Lee, professor of epidemiology at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health.