Do you really need 10,000 steps every day?
You’ve probably heard the suggestion many times that you should take 10,000 steps per day, but many people average far fewer.
If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed trying to reach your recommended 10,000 steps per day, you may have reason to relax a little. A study found that for women over 60, taking 10,000 steps per day doesn’t increase their likelihood of living longer. In fact, the benefits max out at 7,500 steps.
So what’s the magic number according to the study? Researchers found that older women who took 4,400 steps per day, on average, were roughly 41% less likely to die over the next four years compared to women who took just 2,700 steps. Mortality rates continued to decrease with more steps before leveling at 7,500 steps.
“If taking 10,000 steps throughout your day seems unattainable, you should reset your goal to a minimum of 4,400 steps,” Dr. Beth Keefe, a physician at the Aurora Health Center in Hartland, WI, suggests. “This is a fairly modest number of steps per day and can be reached by even those who are not very active.”
Wondering how to increase your daily steps? Consider these ideas for easily adding more walking into your normal routine:
- Take a walk at lunch or during your assigned breaks
- If you have a dog, take him or her for more walks
- Walk in place while you’re on the phone instead of sitting
- Get competitive and challenge a friend, family member or co-worker to see who can complete more steps in a week.
While taking 4,400 steps is a great goal to get you started with being healthier, Dr. Keefe stresses the benefits that walking more can have on other areas of your life.
“Walking more steps per day can help with weight loss and decreasing your body mass index,” Dr. Keefe explains. “It can also reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, especially when coupled with other healthy behaviors.”
Dr. Keefe also recommends adding other forms of light exercise into your weekly routine like gardening, swimming or biking.
“Ideally, you want to spend at least 150 minutes per week doing moderate-intensity aerobic activities like brisk walking, yoga, dancing or other light activities,” says Dr. Keefe. “Don’t forget to also add some muscle-strengthening activities into your routine like lifting weights or doing push-ups.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.