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That step count on your phone may really matter

We came across this interesting study titled “Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  As the title suggests, researchers compared the health outcomes of a sample of 4.840 US adults aged 40+ based on three classifications of step count (less than 4K per day, between 4K and 8K, and over 8K) and three proxies for intensity: extended bout cadence, peak 30-minute cadence, and peak 1-minute cadence (steps/min).  

The conclusions were pretty clear:

Compared with taking 4K steps per day, taking 8K steps per day was associated with 51% lower all-cause mortality.  The higher the sept count the lower the incidence of death: taking 12K steps per day dropped all-cause mortality by 65%.

Saint-Maurice PF, Troiano RP, Bassett DR, et al. Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA. 2020;323(12):1151–1160.

Volume trumps intensity

Interestingly, the level step intensity was not as good a predictor of mortality:  “Greater step intensity was not significantly associated with lower mortality after adjustment for total steps per day” (the highest vs lowest quartile of peak 30 cadence was only 10% apart in likelihood of mortality rates).    


This study is observational, so it points to correlation but does not prove causality.  Nevertheless, we think that it is a consistent argument for focusing on the simple stuff when it comes to longevity.  It makes our commitment to log in those daily 10K steps that much more meaningful!

The data for the study was drawn from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of studies designed to assess a nationally representative sample of the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States.  

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