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Dementia risk 'could be reduced by walking 4,000 steps a day'

Walking fewer than 4,000 steps a day could significantly cut your risk of dementia, research suggests. A study found that people who take just 3,800 daily steps can slash their risk of dementia by 25 per cent.

Researchers used data from UK Biobank, a large-scale source of medical information. They linked step count information from 78,500 adults aged between 40 and 79 with health outcomes seven years on.

The findings suggest that significant preventative health benefits can be gained from walking a relatively small number of steps each day. The research did indicate, however, that walking around 10,000 steps a day is even more beneficial, reports the Daily Record.

Walking specifically 9,800 steps a day was associated with an even lower risk of dementia. This number of steps was also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and death.

The speed at which individuals walk was also linked to better health outcomes. Scientists reported that walking at a faster pace showed benefits "above and beyond" the number of steps people achieve.

10,000 steps a day was described by scientists as a 'sweet spot' for health benefits (George Clerk)

"The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster," said co-lead author Dr Matthew Ahmadi of the University of Sydney.

Co-lead author Professor Borja del Pozo Cruz from the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Cadiz said: "For less active individuals, our study also demonstrates that as low as 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25 percent."

Researchers said the studies are observational, meaning they cannot show direct cause and effect. However, they noted "strong and consistent associations" seen across both studies.

"The size and scope of these studies using wrist-worn trackers makes it the most robust evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps a day is the sweet spot for health benefits and walking faster is associated with additional benefits,” said Dr Matthew Ahmadi.

"Going forward more research with longer-term use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily stepping."

The study is available online JAMA Internal Medicine here.

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