10,000 Steps: Just a Number?

We have all heard 10,000 as the magic number of recommended daily steps. In fact, your FitBit vibrates and fills the screen with streamers when you hit that step goal. But 10,000 steps is roughly equivalent to 5 miles, a distance that many of us don’t have the time to meet daily.  Does this mean that we aren’t reaching our optimal level of health? Research suggests that exercise has benefits with far fewer steps. 

The 10,000 step goal originated in the 1960’s in Japan, when a company was trying to promote fitness after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. This company created pedometers called Manpo-kei, which translates in English as “10,000-steps meter.” This was essentially a marketing tactic, but it took root over time. 

A study from 2019 put this number to the test and found that walking reduced mortality rates until about 7,500 steps a day, and then leveled off.  The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. This corresponds to just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. A brisk walk for 30 minutes is about 4,000 steps and has notable health benefits. 

Walking in any amount is good for your heart health and overall wellbeing. Physical activity can reduce your likelihood for many medical conditions, increase your mood and memory, improve your immunity, reduce stress levels, and much more. So, don’t worry too much about the specific number of steps. Go out and get a brisk 30-minute walk in today!

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/06/well/move/10000-steps-health.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10000-steps-a-day-or-fewer-2019071117305

https://www.wsj.com/articles/10-000-steps-a-day-is-a-myth-the-number-to-stay-healthy-is-far-lower-11591968600

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

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