The Last Word: Do You Really Need To Take 10,000 Steps A Day?

The Last Word: Do You Really Need To Take 10,000 Steps A Day?


Many people have set the goal to walk 10,000 steps per day. This setting is still used by many fitness trackers. Perhaps you are working towards that 10,000 step goal (equivalent to approximately 5 miles) as part of your wellness routine.

Is it really worth 10,000 steps daily to improve our overall health? Is it another fitness trend or something?

Claim about 10,000 Steps per Day

It is not clear where this standard came from. Researchers believe that the standard can be traced back as far as 1965 when a Japanese company created a pedometer called Manpo-kei or “10,000 steps meter” English. According to Shawn Arent (CSCS), professor and chair of department of exercise science, and director of the University of South Carolina’s sport and science laboratory, 10,000 steps was not based on science but marketing.

This marketing campaign was clearly a huge success. The recommendation to walk 10,000 steps per day is now ingrained in Western culture. Researchers were inspired to investigate if this number had any health benefits. The good news is that it does.

Scientific Research on the Health Benefits of 10,000 Steps per Day

was published in May 2019 in JAMA Internal Medicine. It examined the health benefits of 10,000 steps per day. The goal? To determine if increasing daily activity is associated with fewer deaths among older women.

The study involved more than 16500 women aged 62 to 101, whose average age was 72. They were all part of the U.S. Women’s Health Study. The devices recorded the number of steps they took each day as well as the intensity of their steps. They calculated this using a variety of measures, such time spent stepping at a pace of at least 40 per minute. After four years, researchers followed up with the women to assess their health.

Researchers discovered that women who walked an average of 4,400 steps per day had 41 percent less mortality than women who walked only 2,700 steps daily. The mortality rates decreased with increasing steps, before falling to 7,500 steps per days. This is 25 percent less than the 10,000 step goal. Researchers also found no clear correlation between intensity of stepping and lower mortality rates, even after taking into account total steps per day.

Another study looked at the effects of 10,000 steps per day on heart health and body composition. A study found that an average of 9,500 steps per day helped adults with obesity or overweight lose 5.3 pounds, 2 percent body weight, and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol after 36 weeks.

These researched benefits are not the only limitations of the 10,000-step target.

There’s more to your overall health than just taking steps. Lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, stress management and diet all play a part. These habits and activities might not be reflected on your daily steps. Dr. Arent states that 10,000 steps won’t solve all your problems if you aren’t eating well, have poor stress management or don’t sleep enough.

There are also exercises that will not add to your daily steps, like yoga and strength-training. These include rowing, rowing, cycling, and rowing. Your step count may not reflect your daily activity.

The final word on whether you need 10,000 steps a day

Arent states that 10,000 steps are not magical. While it can be a good goal to set, it is not the only way to achieve fitness.

Larry Nolan is a physician in sports medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Hospital in Columbus. “I encourage people not to focus on one number of their health.” Instead of focusing on one number, focus on improving multiple factors that impact your health.

Counting steps can help you keep track of your activity and decrease your sitting time. Arent states that counting steps can help you wake up to the fact that there are many people who are shocked at how little they move each day.

Although you don’t need to aim for 10,000 steps every day, it is possible to get used to counting steps and identify times when you can move more. Dr. Nolan advises, “Find a target that works best for you and follow it.”

Arent recommends that you use the CDC physical activity guidelines to focus not only on the quantity of your exercise but also on the duration and type of movement. At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as walking or running , is a goal. Or, you can do a mix of both. You should also do at least two full body strength workouts per week.

Enjoy the journey. Find something you enjoy and appreciate what your body can do. Arent states that movement is something we are able to do and that the more we do it, the better our ability to keep it.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one-on-one training, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!