Walking This Many Steps Per Week Can Increase Your Lifespan Up to Three Years, Study Finds

Staying active however possible is a key component of any healthy lifestyle. Though studies have sought to debunk the long-held belief of 10,000 steps a day being the ideal number to hit, something as simple as walking can undoubtedly have a positive effect on your physical health.

A new study published by the London School of Economics and health and wellness platform Vitality Global found that walking 5,000 steps three times each week for two years can add up to three years to a person's life expectancy. It can also decrease walkers' healthcare costs by up to 13 percent.

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To reach these numbers, researchers created "The Vitality Habit Index," which analyzed behaviors and habits of one million Vitality members in the U.K. and South Africa between 2013 and 2023. The goal was to find the best ways for people to form and maintain lifelong healthy habits and break down the science behind how these habits can lead to longer and more fulfilling lives.

"Healthy habits can profoundly extend the quality and length of life," Discovery Vitality founder Adrian Gore explained in a statement. "Our data shows the impact is not only significant but applies across ages, risk factors, and health statuses—maintaining a small amount of physical activity has lasting health impacts. Given the role of behavior in health risk globally, a better understanding of the mechanisms of habits can be a powerful way to improve individual health—and to evolve our healthcare systems to prioritize preventive health."

"This research clearly shows the power of small behavioral changes and the significant impact these can have on health and well-being," Vitality U.K. CEO Neville Koopowitz added. "Taking consistent steps to achieve a health habit is key, and we can see within this data that it’s never too late to start. This approach to habitual physical activity and exercise has the potential to completely transform and improve our collective health."

As for what's next, London School of Economics professor Joan Costa-Font called on those in government to prioritize society's greater health needs.

"The findings of this study are a clear call to action for policy makers to promote prevention in public health and build on the power of healthy habits to improve individual and collective health outcomes," Costa-Font said. "Successful habit-based interventions can lengthen life expectancy, entail considerable savings for public health services, improve productivity, and help address the significant long-term challenges posed by mental health, social isolation, and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes."

It might be time to work in a nice long walk into your routine a few days a week.