10,000 steps

Myth of a Milestone

If you grew up hearing 10,000 steps a day is good for you, I’m here to burst that bubble.

When you first learned of that number, you might have thought to yourself, “10k is such a memorable, round figure. I could totally strive for that!” Or you might’ve thought: “Gee, that’s actually quite a lot of steps.” In either case, I have great news.

Even though many people say 10,000 steps a day is good for you, you can actually get the benefits associated with way less. The number 10,000 is arbitrary!

In fact it was all borne from a marketing scheme by a Japanese company, Yamasa. In the wake of the 1964 Olympics, Yamasa released the Manpo-kei which literally translates to “10,000 steps.” Dr. I-Min Lee, epidemiologist and Harvard Medical School professor states it was essentially a marketing tool.

The Science of How Many Steps

4,500 to 7,000 steps is a good range to target. Anything above that isn’t necessarily going to be that much more beneficial to you.

Customizing Walking for Your Lifestyle

There are many tiny ways to build up your step count.

  • Get up and move around every hour. My Apple Watch automatically prompts me if I’ve been sitting for an hour and not stretched my legs. It helps sometimes.
  • Take the scenic route. If you’re getting somewhere, plan to be a little early, so you have the time to take a more scenic walking route. I think it’s good to nourish our inner adventurer spirit!
  • Pick stairs over elevators and escalators. A good incline can make for a great workout and not to mention, saves energy.


Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts

Harvard Health


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