How Many Steps is Enough? Article of the week July 2 to 5, 2019

Today many people wear devices on their wrists, or have apps on their phones that track the number of steps they take every day.  I think that it's great that technology can encourage people to become more active.  The number I hear many patients quoting when they share their goals for number of steps taken per day is 10,000.  To some this may sound like an intimidating number.  Ten thousand steps sounds like a long way and some people might get overwhelmed if they feel pressure to take 10,000 steps per day.  I want to share a little bit of research I came across to reassure you that if you are walking you can still reap a lot of health benefits even if you are coming up short of this number.

First off, let's establish that walking daily is one of the best things you can do for your health.  The World Health Organization says that inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide.  The average adult in North America spends 10 hours sitting every day, and if you are sitting for most of the day a short workout at the end of the day is not enough to counteract the negative health effects of sitting for the rest of the time.  If you have a job that requires you to sit or if you are mostly sedentary at home, you should aim to get up and move frequently and interrupt your sitting as often as possible, even if you are moving for short periods of time.

Now let's dispel the myth that 10,000 steps is the minimum daily requirement.  This number is not based on science but comes from a Japanese company that manufactured the Manpo-kei pedometer, which translates to “10,000 steps pedometer”. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that was published in May 2019 studied the walking habits of over 18,000 women between the ages of 62 and 101.

What they found was that, compared to women who took 2,718 steps per day:

women who took 4,363 steps were 41% less likely to die in the next 4 years

women who took 5,905 steps were 46% less likely to die in the next 4 years

women who took 8,442 steps were 58% less likely to die in the next 4 years

However, they also found that the benefit levelled off at 7,500 steps.  Any steps beyond that were found to have no additional benefit in reducing mortality.  So what is the lesson to be learned from this study?  More is better, but to a point.  Taking more than 7,500 steps will not cause you harm but it is unlikely to have additional benefit as far as life expectancy is concerned. 

I would also encourage you to walk with intention.  When you walk, take 20 to 30 second bursts where you are walking more briskly with the goal of increasing your breathing and heart rate.  If you are someone who prefers to measure your walking by time instead of steps, it takes approximately 75 to 100 minutes to walk 10,000 steps depending on your intensity.  So 7,500 steps would take about 60 to 75 minutes.  And remember, you don't have to do it all at once.  You can do it bite-size chunks as you go through your day.

Keep moving and live long! 

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tim

Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 –


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