In fact, the idea of walking at least 8,000 steps a day for health goes back decades to a marketing campaign launched in Japan to promote a pedometer. But how many steps per day are needed to live a bit longer?
In subsequent years, it was adopted in the U.S. as a goal to promote good health. It’s often the default setting on fitness trackers, but what’s it really based on?
“The original basis of the number was not scientifically determined,” says researcher I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
She was curious to know how many steps you need to take a day to maintain good health and live a long life. She and her colleagues designed a study that included about 17,000 older women.
Their average age was 72. The women all agreed to clip on wearable devices to track their steps as they went about their day-to-day activities.
How many steps per day are needed for women?
In fact, women who took 4,400 steps per day, on average. They were about 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period. This data was collected in a time range of about four years, compared with women who took 2,700 steps.
How Many Steps Per Day to Live a Bit Longer?
So, The benefits of walking maxed out at about 7,500 steps. In other words, women who walked more than 7,500 steps per day saw no additional boost in longevity.
Of course, the researchers point out, they would like to know much more about how walking. Especially, how walking may affect other health parameters. It includes quality of life and memory and cognitive function. It’s possible that walking a greater number of steps each day could influence these outcomes.
Another thing Janz notes is that this study only measures walking. It didn’t measure things that many of us do that don’t require steps, things like gardening, swimming, or biking.
It is safe to assume some women in the study were doing these other things that can influence health as well.
And Janz says to remember the federal exercise guidelines call for 150 minutes per week. Only moderate physical activity is required, which includes all kinds of daily movement, not just like walking the stairs.
So, if 10,000 steps have been feeling out of reach to you, it may be time to reset those factory settings on your fitness tracker. Instead, try to hit at least 4,400 a day, along with daily activities that you enjoy. And stick to it.
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Understand the messages of your body. And, how to act on them for your longevity.