Turns out walking 10,000 steps per day may not make you live longer

There’s always been this fascination with aiming to walk 10,000 steps per day. The target was set when a device in Japan essentially encouraged people to reach the daily plateau back in 1965. Since then it’s been a staple of fitness for fitness lovers everywhere.

In today’s world, fitness is everywhere. Just when the pandemic was thought to ruin our bodies, virtual fitness classes took the world by storm.

People found ways to transition from gyms to the outdoors again, conducting socially-distanced workout classes in public spaces or putting miles on legs like never before.

The use of fitness products, like watches by Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, and others picked up new importance beyond those who were obsessed with it before the pandemic. Fitness apps like Strava and MyFitnessPal helped encourage healthy competition withs friends through a social media platform.

But like much of the past year, we all find grooves and then we don’t. In normal times, I had averaged around 6,000 steps daily and went to the gym. Nowadays, if I’m not going for a run, I’m at about 4,500-5,000 steps.

The shift to remote working during the pandemic has caused many Americans to become more sedentary than before. Stress and depression can make it difficult to physically leave your home, the same home that has now become a daycare, a commute, and most of all, your workplace.

The 5-mile ‘sweet spot’

For those that find the 10,000-step goal daunting, it equates to about five miles. That number can still seem a lot, but it’s not a sure fire number recommended by researchers to boost optimal health.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommends people get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which comes to about 30 minutes of daily exercise daily. Do that and you should be fine.

A few steps are better than nothing!

In fact, the 10,000 steps a day goal is just a goal. A study published by JAMA International Medicine in 2019 found that people who walked around 4,400 steps per day lowered their mortality rate compared to others who were less active.

While the study focused on elderly women, it did show that the 10,000-step goal is just a number that was created that became a marketing scheme for companies pushing fitness and health products.

Others say step count goals should be viewed as a way to decrease sedentary life.

“The biggest benefit of step recommendations is getting people out of a sedentary lifestyle,” a researcher from BYU said about a study debunking the 10,000 step goal. “Even though it won’t prevent weight gain on its own, more steps is always better for you.”

If you’re struggling to decrease your sedentary lifestyle, a quick and easy way could be to create a remote commute at home.

With commutes curbed during the pandemic, people have created routines at home to mimic their commute, with some opting to get in a car for daily coffee runs to others walking around the block at the same time every day.