You’ve probably heard that you’re meant to take 10,000 steps every day for optimal health, but research indicates that this figure is entirely arbitrary and you don't actually have to walk that far to reap the benefits.
If you’re over 60 and about to take your 6,001st step of the day then you might want to sit down. Your work is done. According to a new study walking just 6,000 steps a day could reduce the risk of early death in people over 60.
There is no benefit to striving for the more commonly lauded 8,000 steps, according to researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The team analysed data from 15 studies which looked at the effect of daily steps on the mortality rate, from all causes of death, for nearly 50,000 people from four continents.
Expert opinions differ on the optimum distance to aim for. Findings published in the journal Lancet Public Health show those under 60 should still aim for between 8,000 and 10,000 steps a day.
Experts say the true key to healthy walking is consistency, i.e. be sure to do it every day. Whether it’s 4,000 or 8,000 steps, getting outside every day and moving your body will deliver long-lasting health benefits.
None of these findings should stop you aiming for (and hopefully) achieving 10,000 steps per day; but if you don't quite make it, you can now relax in the knowledge that a couple of thousand steps short of your target isn't going to be too serious!
But the often quoted mantra of exactly 10,000 steps a day has no grounding in science and researchers believe it’s actually linked back to a Japanese pedometer from 1965 whose name, Manpo-kei, translates to “10,000 steps meter.”