Are you tirelessly striving to hit that 10,000-step mark every day, thinking it’s the key to unlocking a longer, healthier life? Well, it’s time to rethink that magic number and put on your walking shoes, because we’re about to reveal the actual step count you should be aiming for!
Say goodbye to the outdated 10,000-step rule and hello to the science-backed, optimal daily step goal for a life filled with vitality and longevity.
Let’s dive in and discover the true secret to making every step count on the journey towards a healthier, longer life!
Why did they say 10,000?
Dr. I-Min Lee, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a step count and health specialist, explains that the 10,000-step goal gained popularity in Japan during the 1960s. Following the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, a clock manufacturer saw an opportunity to capitalize on the growing fitness trend. They mass-produced a pedometer, the name of which, when written in Japanese characters, looked like a walking person and translated to “10,000-steps meter.” This walking target has since become ingrained in our worldwide awareness and has been integrated into various fitness trackers over the years.
However, the latest scientific findings indicate that achieving 10,000 steps per day, which is approximately five miles, is not actually necessary for maintaining our health or promoting longevity.
Discovering your ideal daily steps
In a 2019 study conducted by Dr. I-Min Lee and her team, they discovered that women in their 70s who achieved at least 4,400 steps per day reduced their risk of premature death by approximately 40% compared to those who took 2,700 or fewer steps daily. The likelihood of early death continued to decrease for women walking over 5,000 steps a day, but the benefits plateaued around 7,500 daily steps. Essentially, older women who completed less than half of the widely believed 10,000 daily steps still experienced significantly longer lifespans than those who walked even less.
Also, consider this 2020 study: Researchers discovered that taking more steps daily was indeed linked to lower mortality rates, but they observed little difference between those who took 8,000 steps and those who took 4,000 steps.
In this study that involved a diverse group of US adults, a higher daily step count was significantly correlated with reduced overall mortality. However, after accounting for the total number of steps taken each day, there was no notable connection between step intensity and overall mortality.
As anticipated, the researchers concluded that more exercise is beneficial. Achieving 6,000 steps is better than 5,000, and 5,000 is better than 4,000 in terms of health outcomes. However, they didn’t find anything extraordinary about the 10,000-step mark (in fact, going significantly beyond it offered no extra health benefits). Instead, 7,000 steps appeared to be a crucial turning point. Reaching this step count reduced participants’ risk of early death by 50 to 70 percent.
The motives for increasing your walking activity
While the 10,000-step goal may not be crucial, it encourages people to aim higher, often resulting in around 7,000 steps—still maximizing the benefits. Incorporating any movement into your daily routine is ideal, and walking more can aid in weight loss, enhance creativity, and help maintain brain health.
However, if your main objective is staying healthy and reducing premature death risk, 7,000 steps will suffice. Don’t stress if your fitness device shows fewer steps on a given day; the 10,000-step mark isn’t a magical number for health maintenance.
Adopt a walking routine that is feasible and accessible to you. As Sergey Young, longevity expert, founder of the Longevity Vision Fund and author of The Science and Technology of Growing Young, mentions, “The beauty of walking is that you don’t need to dedicate a lot of time to it. You can integrate it into your healthy lifestyle.”
The bottom line, it’s time to let go of the fixation on the 10,000-step target and embrace the scientifically supported goal of around 7,000 steps per day for optimal health and longevity. Remember that any movement integrated into your daily life is beneficial, and walking offers a myriad of advantages, such as weight loss, enhanced creativity, and improved brain health.
Focus on establishing a walking routine that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle, and don’t worry about hitting an arbitrary step count. Ultimately, it’s the consistent commitment to a healthier lifestyle that will lead you on the path towards a longer, more vibrant life. Happy walking!