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21 Mar 2024

Got to get the 10,000 steps in - Or do you?

Got to get the 10,000 steps in - Or do you?

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that increasing daily step count, up to about 10,000 steps, can significantly lower mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, regardless of sedentary time.  

Led by Matthew Ahmadi from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre, the study analysed data from 72,174 individuals. Results showed a 39% decrease in mortality risk and a 21% reduction in incident CVD risk among those achieving 9,000-10,000 steps daily.  

Even reaching 4,000-4,500 steps daily yielded substantial benefits. However, the study's observational nature means causation cannot be confirmed, and there may be unmeasured factors influencing the results. 

You can read the full article here: https://www.physioupdate.co.uk/news/taking-enough-daily-steps-may-counteract-risk-of-cardiovascular-disease-in-highly-sedentary-people/  

Further to this, a meta-analysis study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, comprising twelve smaller studies, indicated that cardiovascular advantages and decreased risk of premature death were evident with as few as 2,600 steps daily. Moreover, the study revealed that these benefits continued to rise until reaching approximately 8,800 steps per day, after which they plateaued.  

You can check out the full study here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0735109723064008?via%3Dihub  

So where did the number 10,000 first come from?  

As it happens, the idea that we should aim for 10,000 steps—or roughly five miles—a day was indeed a coincidence, stemming from a marketing campaign in the 60s. Dr. I-Min Lee, an epidemiology professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a researcher on physical activity, recounted how a Japanese company introduced a new prototype pedometer called "Manpo-kei," which translates to "10,000 steps meter." Noting the catchy rounded number, it began to gain traction until it became widely adopted.  

Over time, 10,000 steps became the standard benchmark for various step counters and pedometers, including Fitbits and Apple Watches, leading consumers to view it as the ultimate walking goal. Despite decades of adherence to this recommendation (or at least awareness of it), Dr. Lee suggests that it isn't particularly helpful as a measure for maintaining health. 

Read the full report here: https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/do-you-need-10000-steps-myth  

To conclude, whilst aiming for 10,000 daily steps may have created an attractive marketing campaign, we can now observe from multiple studies into the area, that notable health benefits can be seen from as few as 2,600. Moving forwards, the studies suggest maintaining a more holistic and comprehensive approach to physical activity will reap more benefits that hitting a daily step target.  

Will you continue to aim for 10,000? 

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