10,000 Steps a Day Is B.S., Experts Say

One number will come up repeatedly when you ask people how many steps you should walk each day: 10,000. This is the default daily step target for Fitbit, a long-standing principle of the CDC’s adult activity recommendations, and a fitness advice staple for Prevention for the past 20 years. For most people, it equates to around five miles.

However, many walkers are beginning to doubt the necessity of walking 10,000 steps a day in light of recent studies and evolving exercise guidelines (discussed below). So, are all those processes genuinely necessary, or is it time to attempt a different strategy? As it turns out, the solution is less complicated than you may expect.

How exactly did we walk 10,000 steps?

A goal of 10,000 appears great because it is round, memorable, and ambitious without being out of reach. The principal author of a 2019 study that reevaluated daily step objectives, Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, claims that it is also arbitrary. According to Lee, who discovered that a Japanese company that produced a pedometer called Manpo-Kei, or “10,000-step meter,” was the first to promote the number, “the original use of ‘10,000 steps a day’ was not really on a scientific basis.”

According to Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., director of Teachers College, Columbia University’s graduate programme in applied physiology, “It was just a guesswork.” The idea that you must complete so many steps in order to gain from improved fitness or health was not supported by any specific science. Despite the number’s dubious beginnings, it caught on and spread, eventually becoming the global average for daily steps.

Studies have been praising the advantages of taking 10,000 or more daily steps for years. In one 2004 study, researchers discovered exceptionally low rates of obesity in a group of Canadian Amish people, whose women walked an average of 14,196 steps per day. Another study from 2017 that involved Scottish postal workers found that completing roughly 15,000 steps per day was related to having lower waistlines.

The amount of physical activity that subjects engage in, rather than the number of steps, is more important in these studies. According to a wealth of research, those who engage in more physical activity have better health outcomes than those who do not, says Lee. But because pedometers are a relatively new invention, we don’t really know how many steps a day you need to take.

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Does completing 10,000 steps per day really matter?

In Lee’s study, which was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association last May, researchers equipped nearly 17,000 older women with accelerometers so that the team could monitor their daily activity for a week. The findings were startling when they checked back in a little more than four years later: As daily step count increased, all-cause mortality rate decreased—until 7,500 steps, where mortality rate levelled off.

In other words, 7,500 steps per day provides the highest level of health benefits for the least amount of steps, making it the ideal daily goal. The result is essentially the same for any step count above that, including the 10,000-step threshold. 7,500 and 10,000 steps seem to have about the same effect on mortality, at least.

There is more proof than just that in favour of 7,500 steps per day. According to Garber, research has attempted to determine how many steps are roughly equivalent to the [CDC’s] weekly recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise. “Most research indicates that 7,500 steps is roughly equivalent to 150 minutes per week, but there is significant individual variation, so 7,500 is not an absolute amount.”

It’s best to get as much exercise as you can because it has many undeniable advantages. However, obsessing over the precise number of steps can also harm your health. If you’re an active person, reaching 10,000 steps per day shouldn’t be too challenging, according to Lee. “That can be very intimidating if you’re an older person. Many people, especially older women, may find it impossible to reach that number.”

You shouldn’t anticipate yourself to reach 7,500 steps per day right away if you’re not already doing so. Some people won’t be able to reach 7,500, including the elderly, those with respiratory conditions, and those with disabilities, but Garber says that’s okay. She advises that the best course of action is to set sustainable goals. If you can complete 5,000 steps each day, that’s fantastic. For you.

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Do you need to avoid completing 10,000 steps?

It’s understandable to wonder why anyone would walk more than 7,500 steps given that the benefits of walking appear to stop after that point. But if you can, aim higher—it’s still worthwhile. There isn’t currently a set number of steps that Garber believes are bad for the body. There is proof that any amount of exercise is good for you.

The study doesn’t take other health indicators into account, but it demonstrates that the mortality rate is roughly the same after 7,500 steps. We only considered mortality rates, but Lee points out that health affects more than just life and death. “In this particular study, we lacked data on, say, heart disease, cancer, quality of life, and whether or not they lost weight,” the author writes.

She intends to work on more research projects of this nature, which may demonstrate that walking more than 7,500 steps per day has benefits that are not immediately apparent. There are advantages to exercise at any level, according to some of Lee’s other research. For instance, people who exercise up to 25 hours per week, or 10 times more than the current recommendations, do not have a higher mortality rate than those who only get the recommended amount. Even in high doses, exercise doesn’t seem to be harmful.

Ask Linda A. Day, who has been walking at least 10,000 steps per day for 15 years after reading an article in Prevention about how it can significantly improve quality of life. Day, who is in her seventies and attributes her renewed vitality to walking, says, “I’ve never been without a pedometer since that day.” “I am at work from 8 until 5 and am out dancing by 7. I’m the oldest among my coworkers. “Linda, how do you do that?” they ask. I respond, “I just do.””

Therefore, even though the science only recommends 7,500 steps per day, if possible, there’s no reason to stop there. “Just take a step more—any additional steps you can take will be helpful,” advises Lee. “Start out slowly, even if you’re not a very active person. Just a little bit, please. Don’t let 10,000 steps intimidate you.”

Also Read ABout Why Fitness Guru Amy Schemper Loves to Walk