Do You Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day – Benefits, Myths, and More

For years, 10,00 steps a day have become the bare minimum. It’s your daily goal for steps. Is there any science behind this seemingly random and large number? 

image of a person walking, 10,000 steps a day
Walking is worth it – source

Keep reading to find out the truth behind the 10,000 steps a day recommendation. Learn the benefits, risks, science-based facts, and more!

Where did 10,000 Steps a Day Come From

So, where did this recommendation even come from in the first place? Not to mention, 10,000 is seen as almost a magic number. Want to play piano well? Practice 10,000 hours. Are you looking for health benefits? 10,000 steps.

Fun fact time. 10,000 steps came from the year 1965 when a company in Japan made a 10k step meter. The name was catchy (at least in Japanese) and used as an effective marketing tool. Since this number has been ingrained in our health beliefs.

Benefits of Walking

There are many science-based benefits of walking, including reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, and helping you to manage your weight. Walking has great mental and physical benefits that make it a great low-impact option that is easy on the joints and great for the body.

So, should we walk 10,000 steps a day? Some would say yes, with all the benefits walking has. Looking at this research study, however, found that people on average walked about 4,000 steps a day and found improvement in lifespan until about 7,5000 steps a day. This study only looked at mortality though. How about other benefits like physical health, cognitive ability, or mental health?

Science-Based Benefits of 10k Steps

This study of over 400,000 people found huge benefits in walking over 8,2000 steps per day. In fact, the more steps you took above 8,200, the less likely you were to suffer from common health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression, and gastroesophageal reflux.

Should You Do 10,000 Steps a Day

Sure. If you want. In any case, you should make a plan to walk more in general, regardless of whether or not you reach 10k. If you are walking on average 2,000 steps, make it a goal to reach 4,000. Do what you can within your busy day and enjoy the health benefits.

Luckily, even around 4,400 steps will help you live longer, so walking is definitely worth it! Best of all, you don’t need a gym, treadmill, or anything else. Just your feet.

Why aim for 10,000?

Maybe your Fitbit is telling you to, perhaps you already walk 8,000 and want a little bit of a challenge, or maybe you even want to walk more to get an 11k step count. Since the average is about 4,000, you can work to know your personal range and increase it little by little.

Plus, it’s a great goal to be more active too. Plus, getting your steps in becomes a good excuse to go outside more, and enjoy the benefits of walking in the great outdoors. Activity and movement are supposed to feel good, you’re supposed to want to move, and feeling a lack of motivation can be trouble-shooted.

Quick Tips to Get Those Steps In

Here are some tips to help you get the benefits of steps without much effort!

  • Walk in Place – maybe you’re waiting in line for something. That sounds like a great time to walk in place (this is not sarcasm. I’ve done this, it’s fine).
  • Do Morning Walks – morning walks can help you get those steps in and take in some vitamin D and sunlight.
  • Or Evening Ones – you don’t have to do 10,000 steps at once! Do some throughout the day to break up the exercise into bite-sized chunks.
  • Park Far Away – I used to love getting the closest spot but I’ve since stopped caring and started walking a bit more on the way to pick up groceries.
  • Walk the Dog – your dog needs their steps too!
  • Take the Stairs – taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a good option for people with busy office lives.
  • Get a Walking Desk – if you work from home, get a small treadmill to walk at your standing desk!
  • Give Yourself Wiggle Room – remember, any movement is good movement. You don’t have to reach 10k! Make achievable goals you can reach and work up to longer walks.

The Takeaway

Walking is a great way to exercise daily, but you don’t need to get 10,000 steps in to be healthy. In fact, one study found benefits in just a 25% increase in the average steps per day. Sedentary people get about 2k steps, so if that’s you, it’s ok for your goal to be just adding 2,000 more steps to get in around 4k a day. The closer you get to 10,000, the more health benefits you may experience.

Remember that health comes from within, so eat a nutritious diet, exercise when you can, and care for your mental health. Nurture mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing by cultivating good daily habits. Try to take care of your gut health too! Microbiota health affects everything from muscles and bone health to digestion, metabolism, and mental health! Get your complete guide to gut microbiota health for free here today.

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