Woman walking or exercising outside

(Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels)

SYDNEY, Australia — Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day to stay in good health? Although several studies have shown that you can likely stay healthy taking half as many steps, a new report finds 10,000 is still a good goal for certain people. Specifically, those who sit all day long.

A comprehensive study involving more than 72,000 individuals has unveiled that increasing daily step counts could reverse the adverse health effects associated with prolonged sitting.

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Center reveal a compelling link between higher daily step counts and lower risk levels of mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Specifically, each additional step taken towards the 10,000 step-a-day mark correlated with a 39-percent reduction in death risk and a 21-percent decrease in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, irrespective of how much time was spent being sedentary.

This research stands out as it combines the observation of the benefits of higher daily steps with an objective analysis of sedentary behavior’s risks through the use of wrist-worn accelerometers. These devices provided a reliable measurement of the participants’ physical activity and sedentary time, setting this study apart from previous inquiries into the subject.

“This is by no means a get out of jail card for people who are sedentary for excessive periods of time, however, it does hold an important public health message that all movement matters and that people can and should try to offset the health consequences of unavoidable sedentary time by upping their daily step count,” says study lead author Dr. Matthew Ahmadi, a research fellow at University of Sydney, in a university release.

Older woman walking
Researchers say increasing daily step counts could reverse the adverse health effects associated with prolonged sitting. (© RawPixel.com – stock.adobe.com)

Highlighting the implications of this study for public health, researchers emphasized the value of step count as a clear and easily measurable physical activity metric.

“Step count is a tangible and easily understood measure of physical activity that can help people in the community, and indeed health professionals, accurately monitor physical activity,” notes study senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor and director of the Mackenzie Wearables Research Hub at the Charles Perkins Center. “We hope this evidence will inform the first generation of device-based physical activity and sedentary behavior guidelines, which should include key recommendations on daily stepping.”

The study utilized data from 72,174 participants of the UK Biobank study, averaging 61 years of age, with 58 percent being female. These participants wore an accelerometer for seven days, enabling researchers to calculate their daily step counts and sedentary time. Following these individuals over an average of 6.9 years, the research team observed 1,633 deaths and 6,190 CVD events, establishing a significant relationship between increased steps and reduced health risks.

The study suggests that achieving between 9,000 to 10,000 steps per day optimally reduces mortality and CVD risk, particularly among those with high sedentary time. Even more encouraging is the finding that half of the benefit can be gained by reaching just 4,000 to 4,500 steps a day.

While the research acknowledges its observational nature and potential biases due to its reliance on single-time-point measurements, the clear association between increased daily steps and lower risks of mortality and CVD is undeniable.

The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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  1. James Murphy says:

    I checked my Map My Walk app and based on its analysis of my frequent walks, 10,000 steps is approximately 4.50 miles. That’s quite a long distance, particularly for older people and for all folks during winter and inclement weather.

  2. dominic says:

    10,000 steps is 5 miles for most people. Doing that is hardly possible for most working people unless they forfeit all of their free time and some sleep. That ain’t living.

    1. Sumanster says:

      While 10,000 steps/day is certainly a stretch for most people, the article mentions anything over 4,000 is helpful. One can add several hundred to even a few thousand steps to one’s current total by just adding several short walking intervals throughout the day, like getting up and walking around during commercials, or parking further from the store or office, or walking around between meetings or other job tasks. It adds up.

  3. Marshall Cypress says:

    10000 steps a day is an unreasonable expectation in places where walking is just not an option. it’s also bunk. It started as a marketing ploy by a japanese business man trying to unload a pile of pedometers. stop perpetuating urban legends.