The 10,000 step a day target that is often touted can seem impossible to achieve, but where did it actually come from and how accurate is it? If we look all the way back to 1965 in Japan we may find one possible answer.
A pedometer made by Yamasa Clock was named “Manpo-kei” which translates to “10, 000 steps meter.” This was simply a marketing tool, however it seems to have stuck across the world as daily goal for walking. It even appears in modern devices such as smartwatches.
Research has shown that the 10k step target does have benefits for lowering diabetes risk, mental health and heart health other research shows why we might have stuck with this arbitrary number.
In ancient Rome distances were measured by counting steps. The word mile comes from the Latin phrase “mila passum” or 1,000 paces (or 2,000 steps). It is said people walk about 100 steps a minute or one mile in about 30 minutes for the average person. So this person would need to walk 4-5 miles (two hours of activity) to reach 10,000 stpes.
Recent research has shown significant benefits to walking less than 10,000 steps. One study from Harvard Medical that about 4,400 steps a day is enough to lower the risk of death in women (when compare to only 2,700 steps a day). The more people walked, the lower the risk of dying. But this benefit leveled off at about 7,500 steps a day. No additional benefits were seen with more steps.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week for adults. Research also shows even low intensity exercise improves health so your steps per day can contribute to that 150 recommended minutes.
Research also shows that people who sit all day for their job had a 59% increased risk of death compared to those sitting less than four hours a day. But the study also found 60-75 minutes per day of moderately intense activity eliminated the increased risk of sitting. So even some brisk walking can help.
So if you aren’t quite hitting that 10k step target, don’t get down on yourself, just keep walking!