Achieving 10,000 steps per day is a common fitness goal, but there’s a lack of scientific evidence that it’s the ideal number for everyone. The advice to aim to walk 10,000 steps every day wasn’t originally born out of scientific data but came from a Japanese marketing ploy that used a name that loosely translated as “10,000-step meter” to sell pedometers. Now, a new study has found that significant health benefits may begin with as few as 4,000 steps per day.
A team of scientists analyzed 17 studies that followed more than 200,000 people for an average of just over seven years.
They concluded that it doesn’t take a massive number of daily steps to improve health. The risk of dying from any cause began to significantly decline once study participants passed a threshold of around 4,000 steps per day (the equivalent of roughly two miles).
That takeaway shouldn’t dissuade anyone from taking a longer stroll; the researchers found that more movement is better, with each additional 1,000 steps per day associated with a roughly 15% lower risk of premature death.
They didn’t find a point at which additional activity stops appearing beneficial, all the way up to 20,000 steps per day. Bottom line is that the study joins a growing body of research that suggests workouts don’t need to be all that grueling or lengthy to improve your health.