Case study: keep walking towards a healthier, longer life
November 08, 2019, 13:35 CET
Did you know that for an average retiree, walking extends life expectancy considerably? And, it's not about the number of steps taken — it's about the movement.
Research shows that retiree walking speed says as much about life expectancy as body mass index (BMI), chronic disease, blood pressure and prior hospitalization combined?
Someone who walks more than 7,000 steps a day can expect to live more than five years longer than someone who walks less than 5,000 steps. According to Munich Re, "steps per day is a significant predictor of mortality and ranks as the second most important predictor after age."⁶ It is more important than gender, BMI, smoking, alcohol and a host of other variables.
But it is not about the steps. It is about movement! We look at steps because they can now be easily tracked through wearables or smartphones, but we should be focused on movement. About 7,000 steps is equivalent to being on your feet for about an hour depending on your exact pace and circumstance.
That may sound like a lot but consider that walking is also doing stuff around the house. If you are sweeping the garage for 15 minutes, then do grocery shopping for half an hour and water the plants for 15 minutes when you get home, you have likely accomplished the same⁷. We need to think more about movement as an integral part of our daily activities and less as an additional chore.
Even standing at your desk rather than sitting increases metabolic activity by about 30 percent. You will need to stand a long time to get the equivalent of 7,000 steps–about eight hours to be precise, but the point is that it all helps.
As technology evolves, the devices that we surround ourselves with can detect what physical activities people undertake and how often. This is a remarkable opportunity to encourage people to move more and realize the benefits. Imagine a scenario in which you are offered a reward or incentive by your employer, healthcare practitioner, insurance or other service provider because you vacuumed your house for half an hour!
With the power of health information and biometrics, these examples will become more commonplace and gradually make their way into new products and services.
This is one of the case studies on health and longevity published in the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2019.