Take it one step at a time: You don’t need 10,000 steps to live longer
12/08/2019 // Grace Olson // Views

Most fitness apps today recommend walking at least 10,000 steps every day for better health. Where the number came from, people are not sure. Nonetheless, many regard it as the baseline for physical activity.

However, a cohort study published in Jama Internal Medicine reveals that people may not need to walk that many steps to be physically active. The researchers, who came from various institutions in the US and Japan, found that walking at least 4,400 steps each day could lead to lower mortality rates among older women. Additionally, they found that the positive effect of reducing the mortality rate plateaued after the women began walking 7,500 steps.

"Our message is not a new message. Physical activity is good for you," explained lead author I-Min Lee, "What's new and striking is how little you need to make a difference."

You don't need to walk 10,000 steps every day

When people think of exercise, they conjure up images of heavy weightlifting, intense jogging, and other heart-pumping exercises. For this reason, working out may seem daunting and overwhelming. This is especially the case for older people who may have limited movement.

In the recent study, the researchers gathered data from 16,741 women, whose average age was 72. They wore clip-on devices that counted their steps in one week between 2011 and 2015. The participants reported their diets and other lifestyle habits until researchers collated and analyzed their data between 2018 and 2019.

Their findings revealed that women who walked an average of 4,400 steps daily had lower mortality rates compared to those who only walked 2,700 steps every day. This inverse relationship continued until the women reached 7,500 steps per day. It was then that the results plateaued.


The researchers believe that their findings contribute to a growing number of research showing that even a minimal amount of exercise per day can help. More intense exercises can be better, but making the effort to do a "little" is still better than not exercising at all. (Related: Walking can improve memory and reverse muscle loss.)

"Just do a little bit. If you just do a little bit, you're better off," Lee said. "Don't be discouraged if you don't meet 10,000 steps."

The current study was still fairly limited because it only took in women participants and was observational. It also could not determine a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the factors because the study was not designed that way. Nonetheless, researchers are hopeful that they could conduct further research and include other populations of different backgrounds.

Health benefits of walking

Due to busy schedules and deadlines, it can be difficult to find time and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle. However, the study shows that walking for a short time every day can lower all-cause mortality risk. Taking the time to walk today can reap healthy rewards in the future. Here are some of the health benefits of walking:

  • It helps burn calories. Make sure to watch what you eat to maximize weight loss.
  • It leads to stronger bones and muscles. Despite being light, walking is still a form of exercise that can help build endurance.
  • It helps manage various health conditions. This includes high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • It contributes to better heart and lung health. Consequently, it decreases the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Walking 10,000 steps every day may feel unconquerable, but the study showed that even a little bit of exercise each day can do wonders. Start walking more and don't be afraid to explore other light methods of exercise. Find out about other physical activities you can do at Slender.news.

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