Turns out the ‘get your 10,000 steps in a day’ thing isn’t a thing at all

Getting in 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy is a big myth.

If you find yourself trying to squeeze in midday walks to reach that long thought magic number to stay healthy, it turns out you can walk more than half of those steps to lower the risk of dying, according to a new study.

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The marketable number

Research published by JAMA Internal Medicine looked at elderly women (median age of 72) and found that around 4,400 steps per day lowered the mortality rate compared to those not as active.

The study, which tallied step totals and mortality rates for 16,000 women, likened the 10,000 step goal to marketing efforts by fitness brands. Many popular items like Fitbit and other products encourage users to reach 10,000 steps a day, but the study said it likely derives from the name of a pedometer stop by a Japanese company in 1965.

“Of course, no single study stands alone. But our work continues to make the case for the importance of physical activity,” coauthor I-Min Lee said in a statement. “Clearly, even a modest number of steps was related to lower mortality rate among these older women. We hope these findings provide encouragement for individuals for whom 10,000 steps a day may seem unattainable.”

Keep walking

While not reaching the 10,000-step plateau isn’t necessarily bad, not being as active has its consequences. The study found those who averaged 2,700 steps daily had the greatest risk of death while finding that increasing your step count does, in fact, decrease the risk of death.

The results were tracked by having participants wear devices for around four years.

“Taking 10,000 steps a day can sound daunting. But we find that even a modest increase in steps taken is tied to significantly lower mortality in older women,” added Lee. “Our study adds to a growing understanding of the importance of physical activity for health, clarifies the number of steps related to lower mortality and amplifies the message: Step more – even a little more is helpful.”

Luckily for Americans, the studies new findings align with what Americans average daily. A recent study by Stanford University found that Americans average 4,774 steps daily.

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