Debunking the 10,000 steps myth and finding your number

We are often told that 10,000 steps is the gold standard for staying healthy. But where does this number actually come from? And is it really necessary to take 10,000 steps to feel good?

Walking is not just an activity; it’s a powerful tool to enhance your cardiovascular fitness, manage your weight, elevate your mood, improve your sleep, and boost cognitive function. Engaging in this simple exercise can significantly decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as dementia and certain cancers. Moreover, walking has been found to improve conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity of any kind supports our immune system and mental health. However, walking stands out for its simplicity, accessibility, and versatility, making it an ideal exercise for people of all ages.

The science behind walking and health

Recent studies highlight the tangible benefits of walking. Research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reveals that walking at least 3,967 steps a day can lower the risk of death from all causes. Furthermore, taking 2,337 steps daily can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

A 2019 study in JAMA Neurology found that approximately 8,900 steps a day could slow cognitive decline and brain volume loss in individuals at high risk. This evidence underscores walking’s role in maintaining cognitive health and preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

Debunking the 10,000 steps myth

The popular goal of 10,000 daily steps originated from a 1965 Japanese pedometer named “Manpo-kei,” which means “10,000 steps meter.” This target, initially a marketing strategy, has become a global fitness standard. However, achieving 20,000 steps daily is not only unnecessary but may also be unrealistic and demotivating for many.

Research indicates that the benefits of walking do not significantly increase beyond 7,500-8,500 steps. This finding suggests that while staying active is crucial, there’s no need to adhere to a rigid step count to maintain health.

How many steps should you aim for?

Experts recommend walking as much as possible and breaking up prolonged periods of sitting. A practical and achievable goal would be to walk at least 7,000 steps daily, or, for those starting, even 1,000 steps can make a difference.

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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