The Number Of Steps You Should Walk Every Day Isn't What You Think

Whether you consider walking to be your main source of exercise or not, you're probably aware of the number of steps we should be taking every day — usually around 10,000, right? Well, not exactly. According to I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard University, it's a good goal to work towards but you're still going to get health benefits from walking half of that. 

As Lee told WebMD, the 10,000 steps per day guideline actually began in a marketing department. "In 1965, the Yamasa Clock and Instrument Company in Japan sold a pedometer called 'Manpo-kei,' [which roughly translates to] '10,000 steps meter' in Japanese," she explained. "But, for many older people especially, 10,000 steps per day can be a very daunting goal." As a result, she conducted a study, which found that walking just 4,400 steps a day can lower the risk of premature mortality in women by 41 percent.

The media and marketing industries have led us to believe we should aim for 10,000 steps per day

As Professor Catrine Tudor-Locke of the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told The Guardian, the reason the 10,000 steps per day guideline has been adopted is that it's the number most studies work with. "This number keeps being reinforced because of the way research studies are designed," she said. "So, the study might find that 10,000 helps you lose more weight than 5,000 and then the media see it and report: 'Yes, you should go with 10,000 steps,' but that could be because the study has only tested two numbers." She continued, "It didn't test 8,000, for example, and it didn't test 12,000."

Ultimately, when it comes to the minimum number of steps we should be walking every day, everyone is different. Some will say to aim for 10,000, some will say you need to do at least 6,000, but as long as you're active, you're probably doing the right thing by your body. "Just move more," advised Lee, adding, "You don't need to go walk for miles or hit the gym."