10000 steps a day? Scientists have told how much you need to walk for health

10000 steps a day? Scientists have told how much you need to walk for health
10000 steps a day? Scientists have told how much you need to walk for health

Usually fitness trackers recommend taking 10000 steps a day. Many believe that this advice is confirmed by science, but it is rather a random number that has turned into a marketing move. In fact, you can improve your health, even if you exercise less.

The watchmaker, who hoped to earn an interest in fitness after the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, launched a mass-produced pedometer. Its name was denoted by Japanese hieroglyphs, reminiscent of a man walking, and also meant "measuring 10,000 steps."

It is this "recommendation" that has somehow become entrenched in the public consciousness.

What research says

Current scientific evidence shows that we do not need to walk 10,000 steps a day (about 8 km) to stay healthy and live long.

This is confirmed by a study conducted by Dr. Lee and her colleagues in 2019.

  • In women aged 70 years who walked only 4.4 thousand steps a day, the risk of premature death was reduced by about 40% compared with those who walked 2.7 thousand or less.
  • Early mortality was also lower among women who walked more than 5,000 steps a day. However, the benefits remained at the same level after 7.5 thousand steps.

In other words, older women who walked less than half a thousand steps tended to live much longer than those who walked even less.

Another, broader study conducted in 2020 also found that popular advice does not increase life expectancy. Almost 5,000 women and middle-aged men took part in the test.

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  • 8,000 steps a day halved the likelihood of premature death from heart and other diseases, as did 4,000 steps.
  • The benefits of the extra steps were small: 10,000 steps did not harm your health, but did not provide greater protection against early death.

In reality, not all people reach the mark of 10 thousand steps. According to the latest estimates, the majority of the adult population of America, Canada and Europe on average walks less than 5,000 steps a day.

At the same time, many people, as a rule, do not always follow the norm of 10 thousand steps. A 2005 study in Ghent, Belgium, provided pedometers to local residents and asked them to walk at least 10,000 steps daily during the year. Of the 660 men and women who completed the test, only about 8% coped with the task.

Four years later, further research found that most of them had returned to their usual number of steps they had taken before the test.


But there is also good news. According to Dr. Lee, it is enough to increase the rate by several thousand steps, and this is quite an achievable goal.

Official guidelines issued in the United States and other countries recommend devoting at least 2.5 hours a week (approximately half an hour a day) to physical activity in addition to any movement we perform in our daily lives.

According to Dr. Lee, in steps, this figure is a little more than 16 thousand steps per week or 2-3 thousand per day (approximately 1.5 thousand km).

Everyday activities (shopping, housework, etc.) are about 5 thousand steps. If you supplement them with 2-3 thousand recommended steps, the total number will be 7-8 thousand, which, according to Dr. Lee, is the best number.