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Have you heard that we should all aim for walking *10,000 steps a day* or more to optimize our health outcomes?
And have you ever felt *guilty* for not reaching that 10,000 step goal (which is ~5 miles)??
Have you ever felt that walking 10,000 steps/5 miles a day is just not a realistic or feasible goal for your lifestyle – and have you therefore kind of given up on worrying about walking at all? 🤷♀️
If you answered yes to any of those questions, I have *good news for you*!
Current research suggests that this 10,000 step milestone is *not* actually as important as we’re typically told it is!
In fact, a brand-new meta-analysis (Stens et al., 2023) quantified the dose-response association of daily step count with all-cause mortality and incident cardiovascular disease. The study found that significant risk reductions are associated with as little as ~2,600 steps a day. 2,600‼️
2,600 steps is a LOT fewer than 10,000 steps, isn’t it? And a lot more accessible for many people’s lifestyles! 👍
Here are the main points from this meta-analysis:
2,600-2,800 steps/day appears to be the minimal dose for noteworthy risk reductions in mortality and CVD
Increases of 1,000 steps were associated with additional health benefits, up to ~8,800 steps/day
Step counts beyond 8,800 steps/day *minimally improved health outcomes* 😱
And I found this quote from the study particularly interesting:
“Although step volumes beyond this level [8,800] were not associated with additional health benefits, there is no reason to discourage individuals from such behavior, as a highly physically active lifestyle may provide other benefits, such as joy, improved quality of life, and better sleep and mental health.”
In short, I love this study because I feel that the 10,000 steps/day goal is often presented in a “It’s 10,000 steps or bust!” kind of way. As though any number of steps below 10,000 is ineffective – so if we can’t make 10,000, then we might as well just not walk at all!
This study rejects that “all-or-nothing” myth and demonstrates that there are significant health benefits with as few as 2,600 steps (and increasing benefits up to about 8,800). And beyond that, higher and higher step counts just don’t seem super important, at least not in terms of mortality and CVD.
Way to make movement and exercise feel more accessible, attainable, and realistic. Thanks, science!! 👏🏽
Ref: Stens, Niels A., et al. “Relationship of daily step counts to all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 82.15 (2023): 1483-1494.