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Should you take 10,000 steps a day for a healthy life?

Should you take 10,000 steps a day for a healthy life?

There are many people who measure how many steps they take a day through smartphones, pedometers or mobile phone apps and feel good when they reach their 10,000 steps goal.

There is no shortage of arguments that these step counters are not always accurate.

However, it is agreed that they give a rough idea of ​​how active the person is.

If you want to know exactly how many steps you take per day, remember that some programs have an upper limit of 10 thousand steps.

How did the idea of ​​10 thousand steps come about?

You might think that this figure is based on years of research. However, there is no such comprehensive study.

The idea of ​​10,000 steps goes back to a campaign by a company that marketed a pedometer (pedometer) ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The fact that this goal has been achieved so far shows that the campaign has been successful.

When comparing the health benefits of 5 thousand to 10 thousand steps in the studies conducted since then, it was naturally concluded that more steps are more beneficial.

However, the steps between these two numbers were not studied until recently.

Professor I-Min Lee of Harvard Medical School and his team conducted a study on 16,000 women in their 70s to examine the relationship between the number of steps taken per day and the likelihood of death from any cause.

Each woman in the group walked around with a device that measured how much they moved during their waking hours for a week.

Afterwards, the team observed for a while. About 4 years and 3 months later, 504 of the women had died.

The magic number for over 70 is 7500 steps

The average number of steps the survivors took per day was around 5,500.

Women who took 4,000 steps a day were much more likely to survive than those who took 2,700 steps. It was quite surprising that the difference of 1300 steps was so effective in terms of longevity.

When this reasoning is carried out, it can be concluded that "the more steps taken, the better". But this turned out to be true up to a certain point. After 7,500 steps, it didn't make any difference in terms of prolonging life.

One of the weaknesses of this research, however, was that it couldn't give a definitive idea as to the number of steps they took before their illness was responsible for the 504 deaths.

Those who were able to walk outside the house participated in the study. Participants self-rated their health status. Perhaps some said they were good enough to walk, but not well enough to walk much anyway. So maybe they didn't realize they weren't well, they took fewer steps than usual.

But it was seen that 7,500 steps were sufficient for this age group. Of course, there is also the possibility that walking more may provide extra protection against certain diseases.

Those who have taken a large number of steps may already be active people throughout their lives and may be living longer because of this. So it's not easy to determine exactly what kind of health benefits just the extra steps bring.

psychological factor

There is also the question of optimal step counting from a psychological point of view. The 10,000 steps goal is seen as a lofty goal to achieve every day, and may drive some people to not take action.

It's frustrating to see you fail to reach that goal several days in a row.

Therefore, setting the target a little lower may be more motivating psychologically.

But even then, a constant focus on step counting can interfere with the enjoyment of walking.

Jordan Active, a psychologist at Duke University in the USA, found that people who counted their steps walked more, but enjoyed walking less, leading them to see it as a job. These people's level of happiness at the end of the walk was lower than those of people whose steps were not counted.

Counting steps can be counterproductive, even for the most 'fit' people. While they are able to walk more, they may prefer to stop when they reach the goal of 10,000 steps.

So what should we conclude from all this?

If step counting motivates you, count the steps you take, but keep in mind that the 10,000 step goal is nothing special.

Set your own goal.


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