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A recent study suggests that tracking fitness goals through daily step counts or weekly exercise time is equally effective in reducing heart disease risk and early death.

Exercise longevity impacted by step counts and duration of exercise

The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that step counts and time spent exercising have similar effects on longevity. Instead of fixating on reaching 10,000 steps, individuals should prioritize increasing movement in ways that suit their lifestyle and abilities. Dr. Rikuta Hamaya, the study’s lead author, emphasizes that various forms of movement benefit health, highlighting the importance of flexible physical activity guidelines.

Researchers monitored the physical activity of over 14,000 older women using wearable devices. Over nine years, those with higher activity levels had lower risks of mortality or cardiovascular disease compared to inactive peers. The most active quarter of women lived over two months longer, regardless of whether activity was measured in steps or exercise time.

Exercise preferences vary among individuals, particularly younger ones. Activities such as tennis, soccer, walking, and jogging, which can be tracked with steps, are popular. Others prefer activities like biking or swimming, where monitoring exercise duration is easier.

For individuals aiming to maintain fitness and health, the study suggests various options. Wearing a fitness tracker to monitor step count can be motivating, with 7,000 to 8,000 steps daily correlating with improved health outcomes. Alternatively, meeting the recommended weekly exercise guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity also provides health benefits, as both approaches offer equal survival advantages.

Exercise and tracking offer similar benefits

The study suggests that while steps or exercise minutes are important for longevity, there isn’t a significant difference in benefits between tracking either. Whether aiming for a step target of 7,000 per day or 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, both can offer similar health advantages for a sedentary 50-year-old.

Researchers emphasize the importance of finding a physical activity approach that suits one’s abilities and lifestyle and sticking to it, as guidelines focused solely on steps or exercise time might disregard personal preferences and limitations.