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10,000 daily steps was a marketing ploy: Do you really need to hit it? | KOLR

(NEXSTAR) — For years, we’ve been advised and encouraged to take 10,000 steps a day. Or maybe it was 5,000. Or maybe, you heard even fewer, like 2,500. 

Between the conflicting numbers and reminders from your fitness tracker to take more steps to reach your goal (that you probably didn’t set), it can be more confusing than you ever thought taking a walk should be.

Let’s start with the largest goal of them all: 10,000 steps a day. If you work in a field where you’re on your feet much of the day, it may not be difficult to reach or exceed that benchmark. If that isn’t the case for you, you may be surprised to find out how long it takes to reach 10,000 steps. 

Citing a study by the University of Iowa, Healthline lists the average step length is about 2.5 feet. That means you’d have to walk nearly five miles a day to hit 10,000 steps. Feel a bit out of reach? There may be a reason for that. 

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“The 10,000 step count was not based on scientific data but rather a marketing ploy – a Japanese Company (Yamasa Clock) created a pedometer called Manpo-kei which means ‘10,000 step meter,’ perhaps because the Japanese character for 10,000 kind of looks like a person walking/running,” Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of Cleveland Clinic’s sports cardiology center, tells Nexstar via email. “Somehow, this led to a generalization that we need to get at least 10,000 steps/day.”

There have been numerous studies that suggest you may not have to get close to 10,000 to reap some health benefits. 

Singh points to studies that suggest an association between the number of steps you take and mortality. A 2023 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested 2,600 to 2,800 daily steps was enough to produce health benefits, while a European study from 2022 found that increasing your step count by 1,000-step increments may lead to a 15% decrease in your risk of all-cause mortality.

Dr. John Jakicic, a research professor in the Division of Physical Activity and Weight Management in the Department of Internal Medicine at KU School of Medicine, tells Nexstar that more recent data suggests a goal of 8,000 steps a day can help prevent major chronic health conditions and extend your quality of life years. 

He notes, however, that there’s no firm answer on how many steps you should take in a day and that it will come down to your personal goals.

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“These studies just suggest a possible association – there is no direct causation here,” Singh explains. “But the takeaway is that more physical activity – which we already know – leads to a healthier lifestyle.”

Instead, some health experts say to focus more on the clock than the pedometer when it comes to physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends that weekly, you should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity.

A structured, timed workout isn’t for everyone, Jakicic says — if you’re “exercise adverse,” you may prefer having a step goal. 

“It gives a person credit for all the things that they’re doing throughout the day,” he tells Nexstar. “And it can help them build a pattern of activity without them having to carve out 30, 45, 60 minutes at one time to go out and do this exercise.”

He adds that one method isn’t better than the other, “but they apply to people for different purposes.”

If you like adhering to a step goal, consider your mobility and baseline fitness. As Singh explains, if you are unable to walk, you should speak with your healthcare provider about alternative physical activities. For those able to walk, Singh reminds that our bodies need stimulus for healthy change — eventually, you’ll need to increase your step count as your fitness improves to avoid stagnating.

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That could be adding just 250 steps a day, Jakicic explains, noting, however, that it may be easier to look at your step goal over a week or month rather than a daily task. It may be better to focus less on hard and fast rules and more on how to improve on what you have done over time.

Whether it’s a step count, a time-based goal, or just getting up and moving during the day, Singh says it’s important to “do what you can commit to and stay consistent.”

“The most important thing is to incorporate intentional physical activity most days of the week if not daily,” Singh notes. “Your body does not care whether you are walking, jogging, swimming, biking, rowing, dancing – again, physical stimulus on a consistent basis will contribute to improvements in both cardiovascular and physical wellbeing.”

Originally Appeared Here

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