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Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy?
Since the advent of all kinds of step tracking devices, many people have started to strive to take at least 10,000 steps a day and worry if this goal is not achieved. A new study from Harvard Medical School says it may be that fewer steps are enough to stay healthy.
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Since the advent of all kinds of step tracking devices, many people have been striving to take at least 10,000 steps a day and worry if that goal is not achieved. A new study from Harvard Medical School says it may be that fewer steps are enough to stay healthy.
A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that only half of those older women who took 10,000 steps a day had the practice associated with a reduced risk of early death. In addition, the researchers say that 7,500 steps may be sufficient.
“You don't have to walk that much to improve your risk of death. People are fixated on the figure of 10,000 and try their best to achieve exactly this result,”writes co-author I-Min Lee (I-Min Lee).
The study involved 16,741 women aged 62 to 101 years, the participants were followed for 4 years. Women wore trackers to measure steps and speed during daily activities for at least seven days in a row. They only didn't wear trackers when they were sleeping or swimming. Throughout the study, they reported on lifestyle, diet, and medical history. During the four-year follow-up period, 504 of them died.
Ultimately, the researchers found that women who averaged about 4,400 steps per day had significantly lower mortality rates than those who took only 2,200 steps. The most active group (those who took 7,500 or more steps) experienced a reduced mortality rate, but no additional benefit was seen at 10,000 steps per day. According to Dr. Lee, it is best to try to walk as much as possible if you are inactive, but there is no additional benefit beyond 7,500 steps.
As it turns out, there is no scientific study that claims to take exactly 10,000 steps. That dictum, according to Dr. Lee, most likely came from a Japanese marketing campaign in the 1960s that sold the first pedometers. The device, invented before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 to encourage people to move more, was called "manpo-kei" in Japanese. In Japanese, “man” means 10000, “po” means step, and “kei” means meter. Together, the result is a "10,000 step meter".
Since the study looked only at mortality and not quality of life, more research is needed to confirm its findings.