3,600 steps per day is linked with lower risk of heart failure in older women

Image of three Caucasian women walking on the beach

Women 60 and older can reduce their risk of heart failure by walking just 3,600 steps per day, a new study finds.

The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, aimed to identify connections between physical activity, time spent sedentary, and heart failure risk. Nearly 6,000 U.S. women aged 63-99 with no known heart failure wore a hip accelerometer for up to seven days. They also kept nightly sleep logs and provided information on lifestyle factors and medical history. The researchers grouped the physical activity into light, moderate, and vigorous with light activity including activities like chores or caregiving, and moderate to vigorous including walking at a normal pace or doing yard work. After a 7.5-year follow-up, the researchers discovered that 3,600 steps per day at a normal pace was associated with a 26% lower risk of developing heart failure, while more sedentary time is associated with higher overall heart failure risk – specifically heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), one of the subtypes. These exposures were not associated with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

“Promoting regular [physical activity] and minimal sedentary time in older women may be prudent for primary prevention of heart failure and its subtype with preserved ejection fraction for which treatment is limited,” said the study authors.