Research findings underscore the importance of prioritising the quality and intensity of physical activity over fixating on reaching a particular step target.
The “10,000 steps a day” mantra has long been touted as the golden rule for achieving optimal health and fitness. However, recent scientific research challenges this widely accepted belief, revealing that the magic number may not be as crucial as once thought.
The origin of the 10,000-step recommendation can be traced back to the 1960s when Dr Yoshiro Hatano, a Japanese researcher, developed a pedometer named “manpo-kei”, which translates to “10,000 steps meter”. Hatano proposed that walking 10,000 steps a day would help individuals maintain good health and avoid sedentary lifestyles.
While the 10,000-step guideline has been a pervasive and seemingly attainable benchmark for achieving a healthy lifestyle, recent research challenges its necessity. Scientific studies indicate that accumulating more steps per day may be associated with a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases and that higher step intensity may provide additional benefits. However, there is no identifiable minimum threshold linked to the connection between daily step counts and mortality and morbidity.
According to another research, the health benefits of walking may peak at much lower step counts than previously believed. Even participants who walked just 4,400 steps per day experienced a reduction in mortality rates. Experts further demonstrate that the speed at which individuals walk provides additional advantages, highlighting the significance of walking at a faster pace rather than a slower one.
Research findings underscore the importance of prioritising the quality and intensity of physical activity over fixating on reaching a particular step target. Advocating for lower step targets may present a more practical and attainable objective for the overall adult population, particularly for healthy aging.
Customising physical activity goals based on individual health conditions, age, and fitness levels is crucial for promoting sustained well-being. Some individuals may find that 7,000 steps per day align with their health goals, while others may benefit from a more ambitious target. The focus should shift from merely counting steps to incorporating a variety of physical activities that enhance cardiovascular health, strength, and overall well-being.