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Aiming for 10,000 steps? Here's your new target

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to the World Health Organization, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for 5.1% to 12.5% (average 9%) of premature deaths, and walking more could go a long way toward reducing this risk
  • The recommendation to walk at least 10,000 steps a day is not based on science; it came from a Japanese marketing campaign launched in 1965 to promote the Manpo-kei pedometer, a brand name that translates to “10,000 steps meter”
  • Research aimed at determining just how many steps you need to take to lower your risk of early death suggests older individuals can get away with as few as 4,400 steps a day
  • Compared to women who averaged 2,718 steps a day, women who walked 4,363 steps per day were 41% less likely to die in the next four years, and taking 5,905 steps was associated with a 46% lower mortality risk. Women who took 8,442 steps were 58% less likely to die in the next four years, but additional analysis revealed benefits maxed out around 7,500 steps per day
  • Higher intensities were also associated with lower risks of mortality. However, after adjustments for the number of steps taken each day, this correlation more or less vanished

Most adults spend 10 hours or more each day sitting, and research shows this level of inactivity cannot be counteracted with a workout at the end of the day. To maintain health, you really need mild but near-continuous movement throughout your waking hours.

One strategy that has been shown to have a positive impact is simply to stand up more. Increasing your daily walking is another key strategy that pays significant dividends, both short term and long term.


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