10,000 steps a day has become the gold standard for exercise. That number has sold many step-counting devices and inspired competition with others. That’s certainly a lot of steps and such a daily task can prove to be daunting. But is that really the magic number?
Dr. I-Min Lee is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and extensively researches exercise. She wanted to test the validity of walking 10,000 steps daily so she published a study that appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study strives to answer how many steps does it really take to reduce mortality.
Who the heck developed this 10,000 step mandate?
Dr. Lee discovered that this number goes back to 1965, when a Japanese company created a device named Manpo-kei, which means “10,000 steps meter.” This number caught on and became a part of our health consciousness but does the Manpo-kei walk the talk?
So the study looked at 17,000 women ages 60-100 and each were given an accelerometer to keep track of the number of steps on a daily basis.
What did the researchers find?
- Sedentary women walked an average of 2700 steps per day.
- But women who walked an average of 4,400 daily steps had a 40% reduction in mortality. WOW!
- Mortality rates continued to improve up to a level of 7,500 steps per day.
So folks, you don’t need to walk to Timbuktu to get an exercise benefit! Exercise recommendations in the US are to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. If you are not sure what this means then just count steps on your fitness app, phone or watch.
Dr’s. Rx: 2000 steps equals 1 mile. Let’s say you are sedentary and walk 2500 steps per day. Just add another 2000 steps and reduce the death rate by 40%. Feel free to walk 7500 steps for the maximal benefit. Sound good? And this probably applies to men too but the study didn’t include men. But how do you implement this?
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Park further from the office.
- Get off the bus one stop before or after your destination.
- Break up chores at home. Walk the dog, do the dishes during each TV commercial, bring in the groceries piecemeal.
- Go “out of your way” for people and help yourself too!
So compete with yourself and live longer!