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THE MYTH OF 10,000 STEPS

THE MYTH OF 10,000 STEPS

THE MYTH OF 10,000 STEPS

How long has the conventional wisdom told us that the key to optimum physical health is walking 10,000 steps a day? And really…who does that? 10,000 steps are equal to five miles. There are probably very few of us who ease on down a road that long.

Now, a new study from Harvard University reveals that not only do most people not walk that many steps—it turns out it is probably not necessary. The study monitored the steps of 16,000 older women for four years. Over the four years, among women who averaged 4,400 steps per day, the routine accounted for 41 percent fewer deaths over the four years.  Women who took more than 4,000 steps a day were significantly more likely to still be alive than those who did only 2,700 steps. The most unexpected finding was that no additional health or longevity benefits were seen in people who averaged over 7,500 steps per day.

So where did that magic number of 10,000 steps a day come from? It turns out it did not come from any form of scientific research. It all had to do with a marketing campaign conducted shortly before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. A company began selling a pedometer called the Man-po-kei: “man” meaning 10,000, “po” meaning steps and “kei” meaning meter. Ah, the power of advertising!

Still, there are scientifically proven benefits of walking daily. In addition to increased cardiovascular fitness and reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, walking helps with high blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces joint pain and stiffness. So walk on, but don’t knock yourself out trying to reach 10,000 steps a day.

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