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Should You Really Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day?

By Kevin Hellyer
Updated May 16, 2024
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You’ve undoubtedly heard that walking is good for you, and that if you’re serious about improving your health and guarding against future maladies, you should endeavor to take 10,000 steps a day. But until recently, science had not quantified that claim. However, a 2022 study published this month in two American Medical Association journals found that 10,000 steps really is the “sweet spot” for lowering your risk of disease and premature death.

The study also found that the faster you walk, the more benefits you’ll get. And what are those benefits? Researchers found that the risk of premature death drops by around 8 to 11 percent and that you can lower your risk of dementia by as much as 50 percent. The study also found that dedicated walkers can lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer by around 30 to 40 percent.

Time to get walking:

  • Using data from the UK Biobank collected over two years from wearable trackers, researchers monitored 78,500 adults aged 40 to 79 and documented their health outcomes after seven years.

  • Stepping intensity or walking at a faster pace showed beneficial associations for all outcomes – dementia, heart disease, cancer, and death. A faster walking speed turned out to be more beneficial than increasing the total number of daily steps.

  • For someone of average height, 10,000 steps is equal to about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of walking or 6 miles (9.7 km) of running, using an average stride length of 2.1 to 2.5 feet (64 to 76 cm). Exact distances depend on height, gender, and walking speed.

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