I’m sure you’ve heard some health guru or fitness expert—or maybe even a doctor—tell you that you should walk at least 10,000 steps a day for optimal health. While this goal can be a helpful tool to get people to buy pedometers and move their bodies, the actual number isn’t as big. In fact, scientific studies prove otherwise.
In a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers noted the mortality rate in older women who walked a certain amount of steps per day and found that the women who walked between 4,400 steps to 7,500 steps saw a decreased mortality rate. The study also notes that walking over 7,500 steps a day made no difference in terms of overall health.
According to a steps-to-distance conversion chart published by the University of Wyoming, walking at least 4,500 steps a day is estimated to be about a 2.5-mile distance or 3.62 kilometers. If you were to walk up to 7,500 steps a day, that’s equivalent to 3.75 miles or 6.03 kilometers.
Now, where did the 10,000-step goal come from? According to Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor at Harvard T.H Chan School of Health and a co-author of the referenced JAMA study, says the original number was actually a marketing ploy for a Japanese company in 1965. Part of her research has been dedicated to learning—and debunking—this original walking myth.
So is walking up to 7,500 steps a day count as enough of a workout? Actually…yes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends engaging in 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which equates to 30 minutes for 5 days of the week. Although pacing and leg length does factor in when it comes to walking and distances, you’ll likely get at least 30 minutes of movement in with a 7,500-step walk.
Remember—there are a lot of other beneficial reasons to eat healthy besides weight loss. The same goes for working out! While many people on the Internet claimed to have lost weight from walking every day, there are a lot of other valuable reasons to incorporate daily movement (even as simple as walking) into your daily routine. Lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk of chronic diseases, and even improving your mood are some of the reasons at the top of the list.
So get yourself outside for a little walk today. You and your body deserve it!
- “Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women” (JAMA Network)
- “10,000 steps a day — or fewer?” (Harvard Health Publishing)
- “How much physical activity do adults need?” (CDC)
- “Do You Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day? Experts Say No” (Prevention)
“Walking for good health” (Better Health Channel)
- “How simply moving benefits your mental health” (Harvard Health Publishing)