We all know that to live a healthier life, we need to move more.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that we aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, with at least 30 minutes per day. And if we can do more, we should go for it!
But we have to wonder: what does a healthy level of activity look like in practice?
When researching this question, you may have come across the 10,000 steps theory – an idea that states that humans should walk 10,000 steps per day for the most benefits.
How valid is this theory, exactly?
The Origin of the 10,000 Steps Theory
The notion that we need to walk 10,000 steps per day came from the Japanese company Yamasa Toki, who used the number as a marketing campaign.
In 1965, Yamasa Toki introduced a pedometer called Manpo-Kei, which translates to “10,000 steps” in Japanese. And the tagline for the campaign was “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day.”
Obviously, Yamasa Toki wanted people to walk 10,000 steps per day. This slogan was extremely catchy and the 10,000-step trend caught on with Japanese walking clubs that were popular around the time. And the trend continued to spread from there – all the way to today.
Is there any research backing up the 10,000 steps theory? Let’s see what the science says.
Different studies show different numbers for step counts that have made changes in the health of participants.
For example, one study found that diabetics who walked from 5,000 to 6,200 steps per day lowered their glucose levels. In another study, women who walked 9,000 steps per day decreased their blood pressure by 11 points.
Whether you walk 5,000 steps per day or 15,000, regular physical activity is important. Instead of focusing on the step count, focus on meeting the goals set by the Department of Health and Human Services: 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, 30 minutes per day, and 2 strength-training sessions every week.
Many studies have shown us that moving more is incredibly important for our health, but there is no universal number of steps that everyone should be striving for.
You Should Still Keep Moving
While you may not need to hit 10,000 steps per day, the overall message of the theory is still true: physical activity, including walking, is incredibly important for our health and wellness.
Exercise can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Reducing our risk of heart diseases, since activity increases blood circulation
- Regulating our glucose and insulin levels, which helps us reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases
- Improving our mental health, mood, and energy levels
- Increasing our lifespan by reducing our risk of chronic disease
- Helping us control our weight, thanks to its calorie-burning effects
In regards to the number of steps we should be taking every day, any and all movement counts.
Whether you’re averaging 8,000 steps per day or prefer to get your exercise in a different way, keep moving and enjoy the benefits physical activity provides. Your body will thank you!