Walking 8,000 steps — about four miles (6.4 kilometres) — one or two days a week may significantly reduce the risk of an early death, according to a study.

While regular exercise is known to lower mortality risk, the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open looked at the health benefits of walking intensively only a few days a week.

The findings showed that people who walked 8,000 steps or more one or two days a week were 14.9 percent less likely to die over a 10-year period than those who never reached that mark.

For those who walked 8,000 steps or more three to seven days a week, the mortality risk was even lower — 16.5 percent.

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The health benefits of walking 8,000 steps or more one or two days a week appeared higher for participants aged 65 years and older. “The number of days per week taking 8,000 steps or more was associated with a lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality,” said the researchers from Kyoto University in Japan and the University of California, US.

“These findings suggest that individuals may receive substantial health benefits by walking just a couple of days a week,” they added.

For the study, the team used daily step counts from the 3,100 participants in 2005 and 2006 and examined their mortality data 10 years later.

Among the participants, 632 took 8,000 steps or more zero days a week, 532 took 8,000 steps or more one to two days a week and 1,937 took 8,000 or more steps three to seven days a week. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking for regular activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

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