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You Don’t Actually Need 10,000 Steps A Day, Study Says

The number of steps you need to walk each day in order to improve your health is a lot lower than 10,000.

Walking regularly is one the easiest ways to live a healthier lifestyle. But, as it turns out, you don’t need to strive for 10,000 steps. A recent peer-reviewed study published in JAMA Network found that of people who walked 7,000 steps a day or more had a nearly 50 to 70 percent lowered risk of premature death from all causes than those who walked fewer steps a day. They also found that there was no perceived health benefit to hitting the 10,000-step mark.

To arrive at the results, researchers studied 2,110 people between the ages of 38 and 50 for about 11 years. Researchers optimized the number of steps for middle-aged people — suggesting that the magic number for  the most health benefits may be walking 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day. They also showed that there’s no clear benefit to walking 10,000 or more steps a day. But moving more is great for you, whether or not you meet whatever mark you set for yourself. 

The new research rejects the common wisdom that you need to take 10,000 steps a day. In fact, the old wisdom of the “10,000 steps” came from a 1965 product launch of a Japanese pedometer that translates to, “the 10,000 step meter,” per The Wall Street Journal. Somehow, that name caught on and the common wisdom became that people had to hit that amount of steps per day.  

Perhaps the most heartening part of the new 10,000 steps study is the fact that just improving your step count — even just from 2,000 steps a day to 3,000, for example — can make a difference in your health.

The researchers hope to discover if walking more can also affect the risks of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or other mental health issues. But perhaps the best part of the study is that it endorses an extremely accessible form of exercise.

Walking, which is heralded by the CDC as an excellent form of exercise, is low-impact low-intensity, while also delivering major results for those who can get up and move. Upping your steps is easy. Park your car further away from the store in the parking lot. Take the dog for an extra walk. Play frolf. Go hiking. Whatever it is, get those steps in. And if you hit more than 10,000, good for you. Just know that the number might not be the metric to chase.