BEST FOOT FORWARD: A study has shown a direct correlation between active walkers and a reduced mortality rate.
BEST FOOT FORWARD: A study has shown a direct correlation between active walkers and a reduced mortality rate. Thinkstock

The steps you can take to live longer

ALL Australians are living longer, but regular walkers may have a better shot at a longer, healthier life.

Research from the George Institute for Global Health, published last year in the PLOS ONE journal, examined the correlation between the number of steps a person took each day, and their potential to live longer.

The landmark study used pedometers to monitor the steps 3000 Australians took each day over a huge 15-year period.

It found people who increased the number of steps they took each day from 1000 to 10,000 had a 46% lower mortality risk, while a sedentary person who increased to 3000 steps a day, five days a week had a 12% reduction.

George Institute's Professor Terry Dwyer, who led the study, said it was the first time research had made a link between exercise and "reduced mortality".

"This shows more clearly than before that the total amount of activity also affects life expectancy.

"Previous research measured physical activity by questionnaire only, but these results are more robust and give us greater confidence that we can prevent death from major diseases by being more active."

Once a tool most likely to be found at athletic events, most Australians these days have a pedometer in the form of apps on their smartphone - an easy and often free way to keep track of their personal activity.

Prof Dwyer said the study's result should encourage more people to do regular exercise, as well as "prompt governments to create more opportunities for physical activity in communities".

"Exercise should now be seen as a potential means of increasing longevity," he said.

"We know through this research, that daily step count is inversely associated with all-cause mortality.

"People who increase their daily steps appear to have a substantial reduction in mortality risk.

"Pedometers and activity devices are growing in popularity so the ability to measure and realise the benefits of exercise are at everyone's fingertips and we should all take advantage."

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