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The Value of 10,000 Steps (or Maybe Less)

By Randi Morse

Getting your steps in is a fitness fad that seems to be sticking around, likely partially due to the popularity of smart watches. But how many steps should you take every day? 

10,000 Steps

How many steps a day should you take? The "gold standard" is about 10,000 steps. It may seem like a huge amount of steps, but people who are trying to get their steps in often strive to hit that. That amount of steps amounts to about two miles, or so, of distance, which is a fairly attainable number for those who have active jobs. But where did the number 10,000 come from? 

A researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr. I-Min Lee, discovered that the number 10,000 came from 1965. At that time a Japanese company created a device that they named Manpo-kei, which translates roughly to "10,000 steps meter." The company used that amount, seemingly arbitrarily, as a marketing device to sell their product. Even though the number was just pulled out of the air at random, it has become a number that we rely on when we attempt to become healthier. 

Dr. Lee's Research

Dr. Lee furthered her research to try to determine if that number had any sort of scientific basis backing it. She looked at 16,741 women who were between the ages of 62 and 101, giving them accelerometers to see how many steps they averaged daily. Women who were sedentary got about 2,700 steps a day; the women who had an average of around 4,400 steps a day were found to have a 41 percent reduction in mortality. The mortality rates only got better as the amount of steps went up, but it leveled off once people reached 7,500 steps. This means that anything over 7,500 steps is not proven to have any benefit to your health.

Overall Health

How many steps do you need to take a day? Dr. Lee says it's not as much about steps as it is about making healthy life choices. If you have a sedentary life and job, she recommends trying to add around 2,000 steps into your daily routine, and she even provides a few easy ways to accomplish this. Park farther away from entrances to buildings, take the stairs rather than taking the elevator, or get off a bus a stop before your destination. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, NC.

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