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Do I Really Need To Walk 10,000 Steps A Day?

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Man walking 10,000 steps

How often have you been told you should be walking 10,000 steps per day, in order to be fit and healthy?

For those of us juggling kids, work, home and other commitments, or maybe just getting a bit older and less able to get out and about as much – it can seem an impossible target to meet.

So can less steps still do the trick in helping reduce your risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and death?

Why 10,000 steps, and who started it?

10,000 steps a day seems to be recommended everywhere as the target to achieve, yet where did this number originate, and what is it based on? The answer may surprise you.

In 1965 a pedometer made by Yamasa Clock in Japan was sold under the name ‘Manpo-kei’ which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’.

This appears to have stuck, and now it’s even included in daily activity targets by Fitbit and other popular fitness devices all over the world.

Can less than 10,000 steps still make a real difference?

Research has shown the 10,000 step target does improve heart health, mental health, and even lowers diabetes risk.

However, recent research from Harvard Medical School has shown that, on average, around only 4,400 steps a day is enough to significantly lower the risk of death in women. This was when compared to only walking around 2,700 steps daily. The more steps people walked – up to around 7,500 steps a day, the lower their risk of dying was.

Other studies have shown that for less active individuals, even increasing their step count to just 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25 percent.

And in new studies just released by the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark, the authors said a faster pace, like a power walk, showed benefits above and beyond how many steps you achieved.

So what’s the answer?

10,000 steps in not a rule set in concrete. Just do the best you can, and try and get out and about a bit more if you need to.

Remember – moving a little bit more daily, and picking up your walking pace if possible, can really improve health and lower risk of death.

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