Where did this recommendation come from?
In 1965, the Japanese company Yamasa Clock advertised the new Manpo-kei pedometer, the name of the device translates as “10 thousand steps”. This marketing ploy has been so successful that millions of people have come to believe that this number of steps has the greatest health benefits. Other manufacturers of various devices have adopted the idea, and today many applications and smartwatches include 10 thousand steps as the norm for daily physical activity.
In fairness, it is worth noting that a lot of studies have been carried out in which the benefits of such a recommendation have been confirmed, in addition, for a long time there is no doubt that walking is very useful and important. But at the same time, there is growing evidence that it is not at all necessary to exert so much, since fewer steps can be taken to maintain normal health.
For example, a study by the Harvard School of Medicine showed that 4.4 thousand steps a day is enough to reduce the risk of death among older women. The participants achieved the maximum effect when they walked at least 7.5 thousand steps a day.
What the new study showed
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts analyzed the results of a long-term study “Development of risk of coronary artery disease in young people” (CARDIA) with the participation of 2.1 thousand men and women aged 38 to 50 years. Physical activity data was collected between 2005 and 2006 using an accelerometer, a device that measures the projected apparent acceleration.
The researchers divided the participants into three groups: those who walked less than 7 thousand steps a day (reduced physical activity), up to 10 thousand steps a day and more than 10 thousand. The scientists also took into account other parameters, such as the intensity and speed of the stride.
The health status of the volunteers was monitored for about 11 years, during which the participants regularly filled out questionnaires about their health. During this period, 72 people have died. After adjusting the data obtained taking into account age, the presence of chronic diseases, bad habits and body weight, the scientists came to the conclusion that 7 thousand steps a day reduce the risk of mortality by 50-70%.
Interestingly, the researchers found no link between stride intensity and reduced mortality risk, that is, leisurely walks have the same effect as vigorous ones.
“The number of steps per day is a simple, easily monitored metric that you can use to improve your health,” the study authors said.