Older women can improve their life expectancy by taking just 4,400 steps a day, less than HALF the previous recommended amount of exercise

Hitting 10,000 steps a day is a common target for those wanting to stay fit and active.

But older women can improve their life expectancy by clocking up less than half that tally, according to research.

Female pensioners who took just 4,400 steps daily had a 41 per cent lower risk of death than those who took 2,700, the Women‘s Health Study found.

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And the risk of death continued to fall up to 7,500 steps a day before levelling off – far below the 10,000-step goal on many pedometer devices.

The findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined 16,741 women, with an average age of 72, typically for longer than four years. During this time 504 women died and 275 of them were in the bottom 25 per cent of steps walked – an average of 2,700 daily.

Professor I-Min Lee, of Brigham and Women‘s Hospital in the US, said: ‘Taking 10,000 steps a day can sound daunting. Step more – even a little more is helpful.‘