by Sarah JF Braley | April 03, 2020

While we are all sheltering in place, it's hard to keep up the exercise regime -- and a little too easy to move from the computer to the couch. Inspiration to get up and get going, though, comes from a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging. Published March 24, the research found that the number of steps a person takes each day, but not the intensity of stepping, has a strong association with mortality. A representative sample of U.S. adults aged 40 and over were tracked for the study; approximately 4,800 participants wore accelerometers for up to seven days between 2003 and 2006. The participants were then followed for mortality through 2015 via the National Death Index. The researchers calculated associations between mortality and step number and intensity, after adjustment were made for demographic and behavioral risk factors, body mass index, and health status at the start of the study.

The results showed that, compared with taking 4,000 steps per day, a number considered to be low for adults, taking 8,000 steps per day was associated with a 51 percent lower risk for death from all causes. Taking 12,000 steps per day was associated with a 65 percent lower risk compared with taking 4,000 steps. In contrast, the authors saw no association between step intensity and risk of death after accounting for the total number of steps taken per day.

Here are some ways to get some extra steps in while you're stuck at home:

  • Learn about your smartphone's health app and figure out how many steps you are already taking per day to get a baseline.
  • Have a dog? Go for a long walk during the time you normally would have commuted, and add another long walk for your commute home. If you don't have a dog, add these walks to your day anyway, and maybe chat on the phone with a friend or family member while you're out.
  • Set timers to get up and walk around once an hour during your work day.
  • Walk while talking on the phone.
  • Use a standing desk (or set up a kitchen counter as one).
  • Spend 15 minutes walking up and down your stairs.
  • Put on some music and dance around.