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How many steps per day are optimal for health? A study breaks the myth of the golden 10,000

The fact that exercise and sports are important for our health is not only something we hear over and over again, we are all aware of it. Lack of exercise is even one of the most common causes of illness. However, not everyone has the time for extensive sports sessions, which is why experts repeatedly recommend taking at least a daily walk. The recommendation that 10,000 steps a day is the minimum is well known (5 to 8 km, depending on the length of the stride), but there is no evidence for this, because this figure originally comes from a simple advertising campaign, but not from medical studies. So, how many steps per day should one try to cover in order to be able to speak of sufficient exercise?

How many steps per day are healthy?

How many steps a day are healthy - New study busts the myth

Walking is good for the cardiovascular system , for the back, strengthens muscles, lowers cholesterol and provides the body with plenty of important oxygen. This reduces the risk of various chronic diseases. It is important to integrate walks into everyday life, no question about it. But those with limited free time struggle with this and wonder what the minimum amount of exercise should be. Who concentrates thereby only on the number of steps, does it according to a study ofThe Lancenicht necessarily correctly.

How many steps per day - 10,000 steps is considered the minimum

How many steps a day are optimal depends on various factors – age, other sporting activities and diet, for example, play an important role. For example, if you ride your bike for 30 minutes, that’s the equivalent of 3,000 steps. So, theoretically, you could eliminate that from your daily 10,000. Likewise, even 20,000 steps won’t do you any good if you eat an unhealthy diet.

How many steps to walk per day for better health

The WHO recommends a moderate, physical activity of 150 to 300 minutes per week and you can achieve this by doing other sports – without the mentioned number of steps. So “how many steps a day” is not necessarily the right question. Nevertheless, we summarize the results of the study below:

The study on the optimal number of steps according to age.

Walks in the fresh air lower the risk of early death


The fact that walking is one of the easiest ways to ensure more movement in everyday life is quite practical. You don’t have to be an experienced athlete or fitness fan to go for a walk. It’s free, to boot. In The Lance study, researchers at the University of Massachusetts examined the relationship between daily step counts and causes of death from a variety of causes. What was the ideal number of steps per day?

Optimal daily step count depends on age, diet and further exercise

The researchers analyzed the health data of over 18-year-olds from all over the world. The result showed that as few as 6000 to 8000 steps can be sufficient – depending on age. For example, older people have different needs than younger people, so it would not be right to give a specific number. The research showed that the risk of premature death was significantly reduced in people over 60 years of age if they maintained a daily number of steps in the above-mentioned interval. More steps per day, on the other hand, showed no additional benefits.

People under 60, on the other hand, lowered their risk of premature death by maintaining a daily step count of 8000 to 10 000.

The role of speed

Take a walk before and after work for more exercise


Those who previously believed that speed was also of great importance in this regard are also wrong, according to the study. Instead, the results show that walking speed is irrelevant – it is more important to find a pace that suits you.

How many steps per day are optimal – Conclusion

Keep an eye on step count, but don't fixate on it

Basically, the big goal is to spend less time sitting and more time moving. This is necessary to get the circulation going and promote good health. The more the merrier, obviously, but the bottom line is that even less than 10,000 steps will bring health benefits just as much as more than 10,000.

Tips for getting more exercise in your daily life

How to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine by walking and climbing stairs

However, if you’d like to increase your step count because it’s below the recommended target, you can do so with a few tricks – and often without having to make major changes to your daily routine:

  • Use the stairs. Some people have a habit of using the elevator or escalator. If you choose the stairs instead, you’ll automatically increase your daily step count (and you’ll even do it at a slightly higher intensity than you would with regular walking). Are you wondering how many steps per day are necessary to lose weight? That is also impossible to specify. However, by climbing stairs you strengthen your thigh and gluteal muscles and muscles, as you know, also promote fat burning.

WHO recommends regular, moderate activity

  • Take a walk during your lunch break. Of course, you should also eat something, but do it better in the park or another place you naturally walk to instead of using the car. If you wear awkward work shoes at your workplace, why not keep comfortable sneakers on hand for your lunch break?
  • Exercise before and/or after work. There’s rarely much time to exercise with the stress of everyday life. Therefore, take advantage of the time before and after work. Avoid the car if your workplace is not too far away or combine walking with the bus/train. Or take a short walk as soon as you get home. Remember: You can walk 2000 steps in 15 minutes.

Simply increase the daily number of steps - tips for everyday life.

Source: The Lancet (March 2022): “Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts”, Amanda E. Paluch et al.