I’ll be the first to admit that I try and do it. I even tell people to do it, because really, how bad can it be? But is there anything behind the 10,000 steps per day mantra? Probably not.
Recent research has found that the 10,000 steps per day idea goes back to 1965 with the marketing of a Japanese pedometer. The product translated to ‘the 10,000-step meter,” and since then, the idea has just kind of stuck around without any evidence indicating that 10,000 steps per day is indeed a magical number with health benefits.
Plenty of health and wellness data/information is arbitrary and the message behind it is basically supposed to translate to “do more.” It’s kind of like eating breakfast or drinking eight glasses of water per day. These suggestions simply provide an opportunity to get more nutrients/fiber to distribute throughout the day and keep you hydrated. Individual variations will always exist, and sometimes measuring is just easier—or at least a solid starting point.
The 10,000 steps per day mantra is a measurable way for people to get more activity. Research has shown that women who get around 4,400 have significantly lower mortality rates than those who were the least active. And those going up to 7,500 showed even greater benefits, but any more seemed to succumb to the law of diminishing returns. Sure, you might be a little better off with more than 7,500, but not by much.
Increased activity, even boosting it by 2,500 steps per day or going for another 15-minutes of cycling, dancing, or gardening, may boost health. After all, there is nothing special about steps, they are just easy to do: if you bike for 30-minutes per day, you’re likely not getting any added benefit by hitting 10,000 steps too.
Just shoot for more movement. If you hate walking through your neighborhood, garden in your backyard, dance in your living room, drive to another part of town to walk, or go to the community center for a swim. As long as you’re getting more activity, you’ll be doing good things for your heart, mind, immune system, and anti-aging efforts.