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If you were lucky enough to receive a fitness tracker over the festive season, you’ll know all about how wearable tech can change your longevity, especially if weight loss is one of your goals for 2023. Counting steps, analyzing how active you are on a daily basis, and even tracking how many calories you’ve burned couldn’t be easier. Most of us tend to aim for that magical 10 000 steps on a daily basis. But is 10 000 really still the magic number? Well, this new study might well surprise you.

The study: Finding the magic number?

A new 4-year study analyzed data from the All of Us Research Program’ spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health. It makes use of the Fitbit fitness tracker to try to find an answer to the question of just how many steps you need to be taking on a daily basis, depending on your goals. And finally, it seems there might be an answer.

The study consisted of 6000 participants aged between 41 and 67 and with a range of BMI from 24.3 (healthy) to 32.9 (obese). They also ranged in ethnicity, gender, and background. Participants were required to wear a Fitbit for at least 10 hours per day, every day for four years. Researchers were then able to analyze the data and ascertain how many steps we need to be taking. And yes, there is a marked difference between how many steps you should be taking for maintenance versus weight loss. 

How many steps to aim for daily to stay healthy?

Realistically, how many steps you need to take is impacted by your current level of health. On average, participants who walked an average of 8200 steps per day were found to be overall healthier and less likely to develop things like high blood pressure and diabetes.

About 4 miles per day, 8200 steps are enough to keep you healthy, prevent weight gain and improve overall health. The prevalence of sleep apnea, acid reflux, or major depressive disorder was also much reduced in these participants. 

For weight loss and prevention? Participants that were overweight with a BMI of between 25 and 29 on the other hand needed to increase their daily step count from 6000 to about 11,000 in order to substantially lower the risk of obesity. This means 5000 more steps than they were originally taking. Taking 11,000 steps on average reduced the risk of obesity by a remarkable 64%. 

Get that cardio from walking 

Technically, professionals will refer to it as aerobic cardiovascular exercise, but in day-to-day conversations, it’s mostly just referred to as cardio. It is, somewhat unsurprisingly, incredibly beneficial for your health. And that benefit is not limited to your physical health.

Cardio is also hugely beneficial for your mental health. Whilst many studies often refer to cardio as being more ‘hardcore’ exercise, walking is also cardio. Just getting up and walking around will increase your heart rate and if you want to go one step further, power walking will really get your heart pumping. 

Another study found that just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 3 times a week can reduce anxiety and depression. The really great news though is that it doesn’t have to be continuous.

Walking for 10 minutes three times per day achieved the same result mental-health-wise and is no doubt great for your health. This recent study also found that, on balance, the intensity of walking had no real impact on health benefits. Whether participants walked slowly or vigorously, it was clear that it was the number of steps that counted. 

Cardio is also beneficial for: 

  • Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Increasing stamina
  • Strengthening the heart and boosting heart health
  • Prevention and management of chronic conditions 
  • Boosting the immune system 

steps - Longevity LiveStruggling to meet your goal? Try these tips

The best way to increase your steps daily is to avoid making it a hassle. Try to integrate it into your daily life as much as possible. For instance, instead of sitting down to take a call, stand and walk around.

It’s not a huge change, but you’ll likely find it makes quite an impact. You can also opt to handle a to-do list of items that don’t require taking a seat. Upbeat songs or even audiobooks will likely assist you in walking further if you do opt to take a walk. If the majority of your day is spent at a desk, you could also try a standing desk just to get you on your feet.

If you work full-time from home and have dependents to take care of, there’s a very low chance you’ll be consistent with your 75-150-minute weekly exercise. In such a scenario, you can make things easier and doable for yourself with an under desk treadmill. You can easily fit this treadmill under your standing desk.

According to a physical therapist, it’s an excellent tool to make your fitness goals achievable.

Although it’s not a fair substitute for an outdoor walk or a focused 75-minute strenuous exercise session — it keeps you from going back to point zero!

TIP: Make easy changes like taking the stairs, or walking if your destination is close by instead of driving or taking the bus. Changing daily habits that you already have in a way that isn’t too drastic is the most effective way to boost your steps without making it an extra item on your to-do list. 

The Takeaway

Essentially, if you have a normal BMI, around 8000 steps a day will keep you relatively fit and healthy. It is also likely to prevent any diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and your risk of obesity or weight gain is reduced. However, if you are overweight, even if it’s not by a large amount, you’ll need to up your steps quite drastically in order to achieve the same outcome.

On balance, if you stick to that well-known number of 10,000 steps, you’re likely to be good to go but upping your steps will always be a good idea. 

It is perhaps one of the few things that you can’t overdo. The more steps the better, and always remember that your achievement is always valid. If you only take 6000, steps but on a normal day, you might only do 2000, it’s still a big difference and an improvement.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that even if you don’t meet your goal every day, it doesn’t matter. Generally, it’ll balance out over the course of the month, so don’t lose hope, and don’t let it discourage you. 


Katie Hart

Katie Hart

Katie Hart is a successful health, beauty and fashion blogger with a BA in Fashion Media at LISOF. Her hobbies include styling, reading, true crime podcasts and singing. She is a lover of all things fashion and beauty, but is happiest when sitting with her mini Maltese, Aria.


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