Pedometers are becoming widely accepted for physical activity measurement. To use step data effectively, an index which categorizes steps/day by < 5000, ≥ 5000, ≥ 7500, ≥ 10,000, and ≥ 12,500 steps/day has been previously proposed. However, evidence is insufficient to validate this index compared with health outcomes. This study examined the association of steps/day categories with cardiovascular (CVD) risk.
Cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey of Japan 2006, including 1166 men and 1453 women aged 40–64 years, were analyzed to calculate odds ratios (OR) for having CVD risk including overweight/obesity, blood pressure, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c, and clustered risk factors by steps/day categories.
Among men, inverse gradient associations between steps/day categories and CVD risk (overweight/obesity, blood pressure, HbA1c, and clustered risk factors) were observed. Among women, those taking ≥ 5000 steps/day had substantially lower risk of overweight/obesity and high blood pressure compared with those taking < 5000 steps/day. However, additional decreases of OR by taking more steps were modest among women.
CVD risk was generally lower with higher steps/day categories. Given the limitations of cross-sectional design, further studies, especially using longitudinal designs, are needed to precisely calibrate the association between steps/day and CVD risk.