Scientists agree: this is the number of steps you have to take per day (and it's not 10,000)

Scientists agree: this is the number of steps you have to take per day (and it's not 10,000)

Walking 10,000 steps a day has become a mantra and it seems that if we don’t stick to it, we don’t walk enough.

If you ask us how many steps you have to take a day to be in good health, most of us answer 10,000. But in reality the mantra of 10,000 steps a day, so repeated, arose from a marketing campaign decades ago to advertise a Japanese pedometer and in reality it does not respond to any specific scientific study.

With this we do not mean that it is not good to take 10,000 steps a day. Is a logical figure that responds to an active lifestyle. However, many people think that if they don’t reach it, they are not doing enough.

There are several studies that deny the myth that you have to walk at least 10,000 steps to have health benefits.

The most recent has been published inEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiologyhas been carried out by the University of Lodz (Poland), and suggests that it is hardly necessary to do 4,000 steps a day to reduce the risk of death.

But this study is not the only one, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst carried out a great meta-analysis (review of studies) and also concluded that you don’t have to take 10,000 steps to get health benefits. The results were published in The Lancet Public Health.

4,000 steps are enough

The study from the University of Lodz in Poland reveals that exactly enough 3,967 steps a day to start reducing the risk of dying from any cause and only 2,337 steps to reduce the chances of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

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Obviously, the more you walk, the more health you gain. The study found that for every 500 additional steps is reduced by 7% the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and for each 1,000 decreases by 15%. What is clear is that you don’t have to reach 10,000 steps to see health results.

The study is the largest of its kind to date, having analyzed the cases of 226,889 people from 17 different studies around the world.

Benefits of taking less than 10,000 steps

The University of Massachusetts study also noted that it was not necessary to reach 10,000 steps. The investigation, led by the physical activity epidemiologist Amanda Paluchreached the following conclusions:

  • In adults age 60 and overthe risk of premature death stabilizes around 6,000-8,000 steps a day, which means that taking more steps does not provide any additional benefit in terms of longevity.
  • In adults under 60 yearsthe risk stabilizes between 8.000 y 10.000 steps a day.

“We observe that the risk of premature death decreases as it increase the number of steps, but there comes a time when stabilizes and there is no additional benefit”pointed out the epidemiologist.

“Interestingly, the research did not find a definitive association with walking speed, beyond the total number of steps per day”asegurab Paluch.

This new research supports and extends the findings of another study led by Paluch, published in 2021 in JAMA Network Open, which found that walking at least 7,000 steps a day reduced the risk of premature death in middle-aged people.

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To reach these conclusions, the researchers combined evidence from 15 studies who investigated the effect of daily steps on all-cause mortality among adults 18 years and older. They grouped the nearly 50,000 participants into four comparison groups based on average steps per day.

A first group performed an average of 3,500 daily stepsa second group, 5.800a third group made an average of 7,800 steps a day and a fourth and last group performed 10,900 daily steps.

Among the three most active groups that took the most steps per day, there was a risk of death between 40% and a 53% compared to the group that walked less, according to the meta-analysis.

“The main conclusion is that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those who do very little activity.”pointed out Dr. Amanda Paluch.

“More steps per day is better for your health. And the benefit in terms of mortality risk levels out between 6,000 to 8,000 for older adults, and between 8,000 and 10,000 for younger adults.”.

However, according to the new study by the Polish university, only 4,000 would be enough to see results.

counting steps is easy

The American Heart Association recommends that adults perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both.

However, “Meeting the physical activity recommendations isn’t always easy, so the easier the message to follow, the better. The steps are very easy to follow and there’s a wide range of fitness trackers available”the Paluch affirmation.

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Today technology makes it very easy, through mobile phones or activity bracelets, to count the steps that a person does throughout a day, whether they are followed or divided.

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