Stepping It Up

Is there a magic number of steps per day?

Woman With Watch

If you’re struggling to reach the 10,000 steps per day mark as tracked by your wearable technology, you can relax – slightly. This is the number widely touted as being a baseline for health. But a recent study suggests otherwise.

The study, conducted by Harvard researcher I-Min Lee, looked at 18,000 women, age 45 and older, to measure their steps per day and correlate mortality rates. Lee found that among this age group, as few as 4,400 steps per day resulted in lower mortality rates compared with 2,700 steps. In addition, the more steps per day, the lower the mortality rates. The health benefit levelled off at 7,500 steps.

According to the study, “the origin of the goal of 10,000 steps per day is unclear. It likely derives from the trade name of a pedometer sold in 1965 by Yamasa Clock and Instrument Company in Japan called Manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000 steps meter” in Japanese.”

Lee points out that there is not a lot of data on the number of steps needed per day for health benefits and whether higher or lower intensity steps make a difference health-wise. Studies in Britain, Australia and Japan showed results similar to Lee’s.

So don’t stop striving for 10,000 steps per day but equally, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t hit this target. Lee’s study proves that far fewer steps will still give you a significant health boost. 

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