Do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day for optimal health?

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Many of us who have a smart watch more or less regularly check how many steps we have taken in a day. Most often, the magic number of 10,000 steps is set as our goal, which is considered to contribute to health. However, this number was arbitrarily set through a marketing campaign by a Japanese brand of pedometers, and then it was widely accepted as a goal. In addition, some of the most famous smart watches have precisely the amount of 10,000 steps set as a goal that is set for users.

But when you start paying attention to how many steps you take in a day, falling short of that goal can be demoralizing and devastating. This is especially common in the past months when, due to the pandemic, many work from home, and thus a large part of their daily movement is reduced to the distance between the kitchen, study or toilet.


7000 steps at any intensity
Fortunately, a study carried out at the University of Massachusetts brought good news – and the number of steps less than the default 10,000 has positive effects on health. A study by Paluch et al. she observed more than 2,000 subjects over a period of 11 years and based on the obtained data drew the conclusions of the study.

The authors of the study conclude that subjects who walked at least 7,000 steps a day had a 50-70 percent lower risk of premature death than those who walked less than 7,000 steps a day during the observed period.

Another interesting conclusion of this study is that the risk of premature death is not related to the intensity of walking, but only to walking, that is, movement as an activity. If we have two people who take the same number of steps a day, the person who took those steps at a lower intensity is not at any greater risk of premature death than the person who took his steps faster.

Even 4400 steps a day is good for our health
The results of the study conducted by the mentioned authors are a confirmation of some earlier studies that showed that even a smaller number of steps has positive effects on their health.

A study by Lee et al. showed that an average of 4,400 steps a day significantly lowers the risk of premature death in older women. However, in contrast to the previously mentioned study, in this study, older respondents (average age of 72 years) participated, which leads to the conclusion that older people can benefit from even a smaller number of steps and have some positive health effects.

Therefore, from all of the above, and as studies show, even less than 10,000 steps a day has a number of positive effects on health, so failure to reach that goal should not be unmotivating, especially for older people.


Recommendations of the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization stands behind the recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity activity. However, at the same time, this umbrella organization has no recommendations on the recommended number of steps per day.

The reason for this lies in the still small number of studies that show the connection between the number of steps, their intensity, and their effects on health.

Therefore, it is necessary to wait for additional and new studies that would deal with this topic and that would determine the number or intensity of steps that positively affects health.

Finally, the next time you see that you have not been able to reach the desired 10,000 steps in a day, do not despair and be demotivated. Even with 7000 steps a day, you have already done a lot of good for your health and vitality.

Make it your goal to take as many steps as possible every day, so plan your daily tasks accordingly, but don't see the days in which you are under 10,000 steps as a failure, but as motivation to take a step more the next day.


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