We’ve all heard that 10,000 steps is the ‘magic number’ when it comes to your daily count, and maintaining good health through staying active. However, a report from Science Focus suggests the goal of specifically hitting 10,000 steps might be a myth.
The figure is thought to have come from a Japanese pedometer called ‘manpo-kei’ – or ‘10,000 steps meter’ – which was “marketed as a device for the health-conscious in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics,” according to Science Focus.
The number is easy to measure and remember, which is probably why it’s hung around for so long and dictated our daily walking goals.
As part of a 2019 study, Harvard Medical School researchers measured the activity of approximately 17,000 women over the course of four years and found that benefits occurred well before each subject reached 10,000 steps.
While increasing daily steps from 2,700 to 4,400 was associated with a 40% drop in mortality rate and greater benefits, they tapered off after 7,500 steps.
It’s worth noting that the study only focused on women around the age of 72, and there would be plenty of other factors that come into play. However, this idea that 10,000 steps should be our daily ‘goal’ might not be so accurate.
“There are a few issues with this research,” Dr Michele Sorensen said of the study, via 7News. “Primarily, this research was looking at women over the age of 62 who were quite sedentary and walking on average around 2,500 steps per day.”
“In those women, if they increase their steps, even a small amount, say up to 4,000 steps a day, they started to see health benefits,” Dr Sorensen explained. “If they then increased them up to 7,000, they saw even more health benefits.”
“It’s certainly not saying that if you are young, fit, active and currently walking 10,000 steps or more a day that you should drop it down to 4,500 steps,” she warned. “What it’s highlighting is any increase in physical activity, even a small amount, is enough to improve our health.”