There is no debate as to the health benefits of walking. But how many steps do you need to walk for a healthy lifestyle? In the past few years, the magic number of steps bandied about has been 10,000 steps. However, science has determined that walking 10,000 steps may not add longevity to your life.
Benefits Of Walking
Walking provides numerous health benefits such as burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness, strengthening your bones and muscles, and reducing stress. Walking can also lessen your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression.
How Many Steps Does A Person Take In A Day
Many people set out a goal of hitting 10,000 steps when walking. However, a 2017 analysis of 717,527 people using a smartphone app found that on average people walk 4,961 steps per day. The most steps walked were in Hong Kong with 6,880 steps, and the least step count was in Indonesia with 3,513. The U.S. was 30th on the list as Americans walked an average of 4,774.
Do You Need To Walk 10,000 Steps?
You may ask, “How many miles are 10,000 steps?” The average human stride is approximately 2.1 feet to 2.5 feet – which would mean 2,000 steps to walk one mile or 10,000 steps to travel about five miles.
Researchers set out to discover if walking 10,000 steps equaled a longer life. The study – titled “Steps per Day and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged Adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults –was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers examined 2,110 adults over nearly 11 years in regards to their step counts.
The study found that participants taking at least 7,000 steps daily had a 50% to 70% lower risk of mortality compared with those taking fewer than 7,000 steps per day. However, the study also found that those taking more than 10,000 steps daily “was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk.”
There was another study that focused on elderly women and their step counts.
“A goal of 10 000 steps/d is commonly believed by the public to be necessary for health, but this number has limited scientific basis,” the authors of the study wrote. “Additionally, it is unknown whether greater stepping intensity is associated with health benefits, independent of steps taken per day.”
The study examined the walking habits of 16,741 women with a median age of 72 between 2018 and 2019. The research determined that health benefits to long life topped out at 7,500 steps per day.
“Among older women, as few as approximately 4400 steps/d was significantly related to lower mortality rates compared with approximately 2700 steps/d,” the study declared. “With more steps per day, mortality rates progressively decreased before leveling at approximately 7500 steps/d. Stepping intensity was not clearly related to lower mortality rates after accounting for total steps per day.”
Researchers discovered that women who averaged 4,400 steps daily had about 40% lower mortality rate than women who averaged 2,700 daily steps.
What Medical Experts Suggest
Shawn Arent – PhD, CSCS, professor, and chair of the department of exercise science and director of the sport and science lab at the University of South Carolina in Columbia – says 10,000 steps is not a magical number and other factors lead to longevity.
“Let’s face it, if your diet is atrocious, you have poor stress management, or you’re not sleeping, well, those 10,000 steps won’t be the cure-all you need,” Dr. Arent told Everyday Health.
“I encourage people to not focus on one number or one part of their health,” said Larry Nolan, DO –a sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “Find a target that works for you and pursue it.”
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