- Walking can contribute to reducing your risks and improving health in the mind and body.
- But the best number is 10,000 steps a day’s ancient marketing myth.
- For health, 7,000 to 8,000 daily steps were found to be beneficial.
Nothing scientific is available to achieve the goal of 10,000 steps a day, for health or for weight loss, despite pedometers’ recommendations everywhere.
This magic number was arbitrary and originated decades ago as a publicity campaign.
Although walking is great for your health, research suggests that between 7,000 and 8,000 steps could be a better objective.
According to Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard paleoanthropologist who studied the evolution of training, the idea that 10,000 steps were ideal was a catchy ad in Japanese.
In its recent book, Lieberman wrote, “Exercised,” that the Japanese Yamasa Tokei – the manufacturer of the first commercial pedometer – invented the Manpokie (traduced as the 10,000 step-meter) in the 1960s.
Walking is good for your health, but to see benefits you don’t have to meet a certain target
Lieberman told Insider that 10,000 steps a day were worthwhile.
For people to remember it is a convenient number that walking so much (approximately 5 miles a day) is connected to health benefits, and walking is an activity for many people.
Lieberman said ‘We all have a profound fundamental instinct to avoid unnecessary activities, so we need to start with the nudges.‘
However, 10,000 steps a day are not necessary, research shows and the health advantages of walking may be on the spectrum.
A study in 2019 by older women found that those who walked 4,400 steps a day were lower than those who walked least in the last 4 years (about 2,700 steps a day or fewer).
The lower risk, however, was around 7,500 steps a day and researchers found that 10,000 or more daily steps were not of additional benefit.
Similarly, in the 2020 study, the risk of death of any causes was lower, compared to 4,000 steps a day, taking 8,000 or 12,000 steps a day.
These studies together suggest that moving more can help your health, regardless of whether you get to the magic number.
There is some evidence that walking does not lead to long-term significant weight loss
Evidence shows that people who walk ten thousand steps a day are more likely than those walking three and a half steps every day to lose weight. It seems intuitive that it could be helpful to add a couple of more miles to your routine thanks to additional calories.
However, new research suggests that this is perhaps not the case.
Evolutionary biologist Herman Pontzer collects data showing that traditional hunter collectors walking kilometers every day use almost the same amount of calories as sedentary Americans.
His theory is that the body offsets additional energy by budgeting more carefully, or by increasing your hunger signals, so you eat more, over time.
Although this theory is somewhat controversial and requires more research, it does not suggest that the relationship between walking and losing weight is so simple as people might think. Walking for 10,000 steps a day is no harder and quicker rule than it is a better health prescription.
If you want to lose weight, it is not harmful to walk, but it is important to change your diet – and it is clear that combining these measures leads to the best results.