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Turns Out 10,000 Steps a Day Is Kind of BS. Here's the Real Magic Number.

by Suzie Dundas Feb 24, 2022

if you’re one of those people who won’t leave the house without your Apple Watch or obsessively does laps around your office to make sure you hit your 10,000-steps-per-day goal, that’s great — but it’s probably not really making a difference.

According to publishing findings from a study that followed more than 2,000 adults for over a decade, 10,000 steps a day doesn’t have much bearing on health factors like your lifespan, risk of coronary or heart-related diseases, or overall mental health or stress levels. But what’s most surprising is what did have a bearing on overall life expectancy, and it’s easier than taking 10,000 steps: taking 7,000 steps.

Over a decade of research, researchers from the University of Massachusetts supported by the National Institutes of Health studied a mix of men and women between ages 38 and 50. Participants wore step counters for 10 hours a day to gather a daily step average per week. Researchers grouped participants into three groups to analyze the data: those who walked fewer than 7,000 steps a day, those who walked anywhere between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day, and participants who took more than 10,000 steps a day.

Their findings showed a huge difference between the first and second groups. Subjects who walked at least 7,000 steps a day were between 50 and 70 percent less likely to die prematurely from health-related causes (as opposed to automobile accidents, for example) than participants who walked fewer than 7,000 steps. However, the difference between people who took 7,000 steps versus 10,000 steps was negligible, indicating that 7,000 steps a day, not 10,000, may be the best number to aim for to have positive outcomes on your health.

Of course, walking 7,000 steps a day isn’t a magic bullet for good health and physical fitness, and what’s far more important is whether you live an overall healthy lifestyle. But if you are shooting for that 7,000-step goal, it may be easier than you think, especially if you’re on vacation. Walking the length of Barcelona‘s famous La Rambla covers 3,937 feet, which means someone 5 foot, 6 inches would need to walk it approximately four times to reach 7,000 steps (according to this handy calculator). Walking one length of Santa Monica’s famous 3.5-mile-long beach will measure in at nearly 8,000 steps for that same person while walking the length of Boston‘s famous 2.5-mile Freedom Trail will get you almost there at 5,600 steps.


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