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Should we really walk 10,000 steps per day?


Often we are reminded that we should be walking 10,000 steps per day. Many people get nowhere near this goal so it can be frustrating to hear and be reminded of this 10,000 step goal all of the time. However, most of us know that this is how many steps that we are recommended to take.

Back in the mid-1960’s in Japan, this idea of 10,000 steps took hold. It was simply a marketing device for a pedometer and yet despite this humble beginnings the idea of 10,000 steps seems to have taken hold around the world. Most smartwatches include daily step targets often based on this 10,000 target.

Since then research has suggested that having this step target does improve our health. For example, heart health, mental health and even lower diabetes risk.

But is it 10,000 steps that really makes this crucial health difference?

Harvard Medical School research has shown that only 4,400 steps is enough to significantly lower the risk of death in women. The comparison was made to those women who were only walking around 2,700 steps per day. The message from this research was that the more steps done the lower the risk of death. However, there was no additional benefit over 7500 steps. This research was done in women only.

The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minute of moderate intensity physical activity per week. Walking is included in this so steps are one way to achieve this goal. Research also shows that sitting down for long periods is bad for us and that brisk walking can negate the negative affects of a sedentary lifestyle, primarily for those of us working in front of screens all day.

The research shows that increasing your physical activity has positive health benefits. However, based on current research, 10,000 steps isn’t essential for these health benefits. You can do less.

Yet, our research shows that many people are not even getting to 2500 steps per day. Therefore, increasing your step count will have positive health benefits. Meeting your friends for a walk, taking a break from your desk, walk to work instead of the bus, getting a dog are all ways to help you increase your step count.

Downloading the StepTribe app (coming soon!) can also encourage you to get active. StepTribe is focusing on helping you increase your step count with your friends and family and helping you achieve positive health benefits by getting more physically active.