For many people, walking is a great low-impact workout and it’s completely free. Studies have shown that incorporating walking into your exercise routine can reduce your risk of heart disease and even improve your mental health. However, exactly how much walking a person should do each day is up for debate.
One number that might come to mind is 10,000 steps per day – and many people log their steps in an effort to reach that goal. It’s a number that is associated with many fitness challenges and one that many tiktoks fitness users trust for health and weight loss. But is this a number we should all strive for every day?
Alexis Coslick, MD, a sports medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, notes that 10,000 steps per day was developed for a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer and is not an official health recommendation.
She noted:-“Studies have looked at the relationship between steps and health benefits and weight loss, but most studies also limit caloric intake rather than assess steps alone.”
Dr. Koslik said the official recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week, followed by two days of muscle-building training.” In theory, attempting to achieve a step count can meet these exercise goals.
However, the real reason steps are an important metric is that it shows how often you move throughout the day.Tony Coffey, owner of Bloom Training and a personal trainer, explains that the number of steps a person takes each day “is strongly associated with improved cognitive performance, mood, blood sugar control, and lower all-cause mortality, blood pressure and postprandial triglyceride risk.” According to one study, increasing the number of steps a person takes, which means increasing the frequency of exercise throughout the day, may even help you live longer.
Coffey told Yahoo Life: “A recent meta-analysis of more than 175,000 person-years showed that for every 1,000 extra steps you take each day, your risk of dying from all causes drops by 12 percent.” These data looked at people who took less than 3,000 steps a day on average, all the way up to 16,000 steps a day. People who took less than 3,000 steps a day had a 300 percent increased risk of all-cause death compared to those who took 16,000 steps a day. To put this in perspective, all-cause mortality is only 70 – 80% higher for smokers than for non-smokers. The amount of exercise you get in a day is one of the biggest predictors of your overall lifespan.”
Specifically, however, people need not worry too much about 10,000 steps. Michele Olson, a clinical professor of exercise science at Huntingdon College (Alabama), notes that 7,000 steps a day may be the optimal walking point, according to the study.
“To have a significant impact, a person should strive to accumulate 7,000 steps per day. Taking 7,000 steps greatly reduces health risks compared to taking only 4,000 steps,” she shared. “If you take an extra 100,000 steps a day, you do gain additional health benefits, but the health level increases.”