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Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health?

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Fitness tracking devices often recommend we take 10,000 steps a day. But the goal of taking 10,000 steps, which many of us believe is rooted in science, in fact, rests on coincidence and sticky history rather than research.

According to Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert on step counts and health, the 10,000-steps target became popular in Japan in the 1960s. A clockmaker, hoping to capitalize on interest in fitness after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, mass-produced a pedometer with a name that, when written in Japanese characters, resembled a walking man. It also translated as “10,000-steps meter,” creating a walking aim that, through the decades, somehow became embedded in our global consciousness — and fitness trackers.

But today’s best science suggests we do not need to take 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles, for the sake of our health or longevity.

A 2019 study by Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of premature death by about 40 percent, compared to women completing 2,700 or fewer steps a day. The risks for early death continued to drop among the women walking more than 5,000 steps a day, but benefits plateaued at about 7,500 daily steps. In other words, older women who completed fewer than half of the mythic 10,000 daily steps tended to live substantially longer than those who covered even less ground.

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The good news is that upping our current step counts by even a few thousand additional strides most days could be a reasonable, sufficient — and achievable — goal.Credit…TraceyAPhotos/iStock

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.nytimes.com

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