Struggling With 10,000 Steps? Taking 7,000 Steps Per Day Can Still Improve Your Health

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While 10,000 is the recommended number of steps you should take in a day, have you ever wondered where this number actually came from? Somewhat surprisingly, this number is based on marketing rather than actual science. The 10,000 steps recommendation seems to have come from the name of a pedometer created in Japan in 1965.

According to The Conversation, the device was called ‘Manpo-kei’, which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’ and was simply a marketing tool for the device. While research has confirmed that taking 10,000 steps a day can help improve things like your heart health, 10,000 is still an arbitrary number.

New research out of the University of Massachusetts has looked at how one’s health is impacted if he or she doesn’t achieve the 10,000 steps goal. Researchers followed over 2,000 middle-aged adults from a number of ethnic backgrounds for 11 years.

During this period, researchers found that those who walked at least 7,000 steps per day had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of dying compared to those who took less than 7,000 steps a day. Another interesting finding from the research concerned the intensity of the steps.

Researchers noted that if two people completed the same number of steps each day, one at a low intensity and the other at moderate intensity, the former didn’t experience any greater risk of dying compared to the latter.

This research supports findings from a study undertaken by Harvard Medical School in 2019, which showed that, on average, taking 4,400 steps per day was enough to significantly lower the mortality of older women during the duration of the study.

While both pieces of research have flaws, including the fact both were undertaken on older people who may need less exercise compared to someone younger, it is a good reminder that step count isn’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to exercise.

In fact, as The Conversation points out, the World Health Organisation recommends adults undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week — or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise — but there isn’t any mention of step count. This is most likely because of the limited number of studies that have shown a strong relationship between step count and health outcomes.

So, if you’re only managing to achieve 7,000 steps per day, know that you will still experience positive health benefits from this — try not to feel like you’ve failed if you don’t reach 10,000 steps. Instead, try to aim for moving your body each day, versus an arbitrary number of steps.

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