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Medical Mythbuster: Do You Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day?

By Linda Dylewicz, PT
Director of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine

Many people who wear fitness trackers set a goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day as part of their wellness routine. But does hitting that number, which is equivalent to walking about 5 miles, really can make a difference in your health?

The answer is that 10,000 steps a day is an excellent health goal, but daily activity that results in fewer steps can also have real health benefits.

One of the most recent studies investigating the benefits of 10,000 steps a day was published in a 2019 article in JAMA Internal Medicine. In the study, more than 16,500 women between the ages of 62 and 101 wore a pedometer to track their steps over a period of days. Researchers later followed up with the women to assess their health status. It turned out that women who averaged 4,400 steps per day had a 41% lower mortality rate than sedentary women who averaged only 2,700 steps per day. The study found that mortality rates were progressively lower with the more steps that were taken per day. Another study of physical activity using pedometers found that women who took more steps each day than others had a lower body mass index (BMI) as well as reduced hip and waist circumference. The study also showed that women who took 10,000 steps per day had a BMI that was in the normal range, which lowers the risk of obesity-related health problems.

However, no matter how many steps you take per day, other factors such as poor diet, excessive stress, and lack of sleep can affect your health. So, it’s important to take those into consideration too. If you want to learn more about how physical activity can improve your health, the CDC physical activity guidelines are a great place to start.

Medical Mythbuster: Do You Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day?

About Linda Dylewicz, PT

One of Reliant Medical Group’s most experienced physical therapists, Linda Dylewicz has been practicing since 1973. With advanced training in orthopedics, vestibular therapy and geriatrics, Linda has a wide range of knowledge and experience to draw upon. Linda enjoys teaching patients exercises, posture, pain management, relaxation techniques and mobility exercises to help them remain as independent and pain-free as possible. She is a...

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