10 000 seems to have become the golden rule of how many steps you need each day, but actually, there is no evidence to back this up!
This target appears to have stemmed from the marketers of a pedometer in Japan back in the 1960s. By making people believe they needed to hit a certain number of steps, they are likely to believe they need to count them.
While there is evidence to link regular physical activity with improved health, 10 000 isn’t the magic number. Harvard Medical School research has suggested that 4400 steps a day can increase life expectancy in women. This was when compared to 2700 steps per day. It appears that health benefits increase up until a point of 7500 step per day and above this, no further benefit is gained.
While high-intensity exercise and a strict training regime may get more attention in the media, the simple act of walking can improve your health in more ways than one. We know all exercise improves cardiovascular health, but above and beyond this exercise is great for the immune system and can help reduce risk of chronic illness such a cancer and dementia.
Walking comes with the added benefit of being outside and getting fresh air and sunshine. We also know how important connection is for human wellbeing and walking serves as a great way to spend time with friends and family.
So, rather than aiming for the ‘not-so-magical’ 10 000 steps per day, consider if you can increase your activity and daily step count from where it currently sits.