New Research Reveals Surprising Key to Longer Life: Walking Just 5,000 Steps Three Times a Week


In groundbreaking research published by Vitality and the London School of Economics, a simple yet profound discovery has emerged: walking 5,000 steps three times per week for two years could potentially add three years to an individual’s life expectancy. This revelation comes as a surprising key to longer life in an era where sedentary lifestyles and preventable diseases loom large over global healthcare systems.

The study, titled “The Vitality Habit Index,” delved into the habits of over one million Vitality program members in the UK and South Africa between 2013 and 2023. Its objective was to unearth the most effective methods for fostering and sustaining healthy habits throughout one’s lifetime, while also exploring the scientific underpinnings of how such habits can lead to extended and healthier lives.

Adrian Gore, Founder of Discovery Vitality, emphasized the profound impact of healthy habits on longevity, stating, “Healthy habits can profoundly extend the quality and length of life.” He further highlighted the universal applicability of these findings across different age groups, risk factors, and health statuses.

5,000 Steps Three Times a Week – Key to Longer Life

The implications of this research extend far beyond individual health. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that a staggering 27.5% of adults and a concerning 81% of adolescents are physically inactive. If current inactivity levels persist, the cost to health systems due to preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes could skyrocket to $27 billion annually.

The statistics are alarming: insufficient physical activity contributes to five million premature deaths globally each year, with one in five deaths worldwide linked to poor diets. However, the Vitality Health Index offers a glimmer of hope by demonstrating the transformative power of small lifestyle changes.

For individuals aged 65 and older, maintaining a habit of walking 7,500 steps three or more times per week resulted in a remarkable 52% reduction in mortality risk. Even for younger age groups, such habits led to significant reductions in mortality risk, with those aged 45 to 65 experiencing a 38% reduction.

Furthermore, the research pinpointed a crucial threshold: an average of 7,500 steps per day emerged as the point where the most substantial reduction in common-cause mortality occurred. Moving beyond this “sweet spot” led to additional incremental health improvements.

Joan Costa-Font, Professor at the London School of Economics, underscored the urgent need for policymakers to prioritize prevention in public health. He emphasized the potential of habit-based interventions to not only lengthen life expectancy but also generate considerable savings for public health services and improve productivity.

In the context of combatting type 2 diabetes, sustaining a habit of walking 10,000 steps three times a week for three years reduced the risk by up to 41%, with even greater risk reduction observed for those who walked four or more times per week.

The research outlined three fundamental rules for creating robust habits:

  1. Start slow and gradually increase intensity.
  2. Utilize “habit laddering” by setting targets based on existing habits.
  3. Focus on consistency before intensity, gradually ramping up activity over time.

Maia Surmava, CEO of Vitality US, highlighted the significance of these findings for the United States and other countries facing healthcare cost crises. She emphasized that implementing these principles could lead to meaningful improvements in both health outcomes and healthcare costs.

In conclusion, the study’s findings offer a compelling call to action for individuals, policymakers, and healthcare systems worldwide. By embracing simple lifestyle changes like regular walking, we have the power to not only add years to our lives but also alleviate the burden on healthcare systems and foster a healthier future for generations to come.

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