Do you really need to walk 10,000 steps a day?

How many steps do you know to walk a day? I know you’ve heard that we should walk 10,000 steps from at least one person or read it somewhere before. But are 10,000 steps really needed?

woman walking outside getting steps in

Unless you have an active job, where you are on your feet most of the day, it is difficult to get 10,000 steps on your fitness tracker and other smart watches with daily activity alone.

The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles a day. Ten thousand steps, on the other hand, is equal to walking about five miles.

Where did 10,000 steps a day come from?

The goal of walking 10,000 steps a day originated in 1965 when a Japanese pedometer manufacturer created a device called Manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000-steps meter.” It wasn’t based on medical research.

Benefits of walking

Walking is a form of exercise that’s available to almost everyone. You don’t need any special equipment other than supportive walking shoes.

Walking for regular activity can help reduce your risk of these common health problems:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Some activity is better than no activity

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking.

150 minutes of moderate exercise

Those 150 minutes a week can be divided in many different ways. Some people aim for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Others fit in 10 minutes of exercise several times a day.

If your walking pace isn’t speedy enough to qualify as moderate-intensity exercise, those steps still help prevent the problems that can occur from sitting too much during the day.

Try these tips to add walking into your routine. Ultimately, adding any regular activity to your routine is beneficial.

Research shows increased activity is linked to health improvements, including disease prevention, improved cognitive function, and better sleep.

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital study found that among older women, taking as few as 4,400 steps per day was significantly associated with lower risk of death compared to taking 2,700 steps per day. Risk of death continued to decrease with more steps taken.

How to include more steps in your day

Get up every hour. If you sit most of the day because of your job, set an alarm for specific times to remind you to get up and move. You can walk around your office, your house or wherever you are. The goal is to get up and move.

increase your steps by taking dog for a walk

Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, join a friend or neighbor who walks his or her dog.

Do it with your family. Instead of a movie after dinner, go for a walk together with your family.

Schedule workday walks. Put reminders in your calendar for short walking breaks to ramp up your energy throughout the day. Have a one-on-one meeting? Plan to walk and talk with a walking meeting.

Walking meetings. Are you talking over an idea or topic with one other person? Can you transition that meeting from sitting in an office or a video meeting to a walking meeting?

How many steps a day do you get in?

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