10,000? Really?

Last week we talked about the walk that I was able to take with my daughter and our newest family member, Enzo. That newsletter seemed to spark some conversation in the office and in our Freedom Strength classes. If you remember, in the newsletter, I mentioned that we did a little over 4 miles on our hike. We have always discussed the distance that we walk in miles, but a couple of people asked me "how many steps was that?" I had to pause because I honestly had no idea how many steps I took that day. Then I wondered - Why does the number of steps matter more than the distance that we walked? I knew we had walked 4 miles, but had to look back at my watch to see how many steps that was. 

That question got me thinking though. We often hear this mythical 10,000 steps as a goal, but why? Why is that number so important? Is there any research that shows that it truly matters? Don't get me wrong. Movement is our medicine. We believe that the more you move the better off you are. But is 10,000 steps significantly better than 6,000? Is 15,000 steps better than 10,000?

When a question like that comes up and I don't have a real answer, then it is time to do a little research. I figured that I would share what I found with you! According to an article from the Wall Street Journal (LINK) the number 10,000 is more or less arbitrary. That's right! A pedometer manufacturer in Japan in the 1960's created a device that translated in English to be called the "10,000 step meter." There was NO SCIENTIFIC STUDY to come up with the number! However, since that time it has been the default goal for most fitness trackers. Why is it the default? I have no idea, but it is.

Since that time there has been some actual research, one particular study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2019, shows that walking 4,400 steps per day can provide health benefits. 4,400 steps reduced all-cause mortality by 41% in a group of older women, while 7,500 steps reduced that rate by 65%. So walking more does appear to provide more health benefits. But why has 10,000 steps become the gold standard?

Obviously, getting out and walking is going to be beneficial to our health, but please don't beat yourself up if you fall a little short of that arbitrary goal!

Movement is my medicine,


Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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