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.
But first, where did the 10,000 figure come from? Researchers believe it’s actually linked back to a Japanese pedometer from 1965 whose name, Manpo-kei, translates to “10,000 steps meter.”
A 2019 study noted that a goal of 10 000 steps per day is commonly believed by the public to be necessary for good health, but this number has limited scientific basis. In fact, it's completely arbitary. The study found that women who average 4,400 steps per day have a lower risk of mortality than those who average 2,700 and that the increasing benefits of more steps level out around 7,500.
So, if you’re really trying to maximize your health, aim for 7,500, but just getting to 4,400 is already doing you some substantial good. 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.
Another study in 2020 found that the health differences between those who took 4,000 steps a day and those who took 8,000 weren’t particularly significant. However, 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!