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Walking This Many Steps Every Day Can Help You Live Longer, New Study Finds

Taking 10,000 steps daily may not be the golden ticket you think it is.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

You've probably heard it time and time again: walking 10,000 steps a day is the key to better health, lower weight, and a longer life. However, taking 10,000 steps daily isn't necessarily a magic bullet for better health. In fact, a new study reveals that there's a different, scientifically-backed number of steps that may improve your health and longevity instead.

Read on to discover exactly how many steps you should really be taking on a daily basis, according to science. And for more great ways to revamp your exercise routine, check out This 25-Minute Walking Workout Will Get You Toned.

10,000 steps isn't the magic number for longevity.

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So, where did the idea of taking 10,000 daily steps come from, anyway? According to a 2019 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the answer is less scientific than you think.

I-Min Lee, MD, MPH, ScD, the study's lead researcher, found that the notion of taking 10,000 daily steps for better health is likely related to a type of pedometer first sold in Japan in 1965. The name of the pedometer, Manpo-kei, translates to "10,000 steps meter," and that recommended step count has been used consistently ever since.

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You may be able to walk less for a healthier life.

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If you want to walk your way to better health, there's another step count you may want to keep in mind—and it may mean less walking for you in the long run.

A September 2021 study published in Nutrition, Obesity, and Exercise found that, among a group of 2,110 adults followed over 10.8 years after the initial study period, those who took 7,000 daily steps had up to a 70% lower risk of death from any cause than those who took fewer than 7,000 steps each day.

RELATED: Want to Live Longer? Walk This Far Every Day, Says Research

It's the number of steps, not the intensity that matters.

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While high-intensity exercise may be good for you, you don't have to work up a sweat on every walk to reap some major benefits for your health.

The same Nutrition, Obesity, and Exercise study found that it was only the number of steps taken that seemed to affect study subjects' longevity and that there was no association between the intensity of their walking and their mortality risk.

However, walking too little could be shortening your lifespan.

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While taking 7,000 daily steps may have a protective effect on your health, falling too far below that number could be a risky proposition.

A 2020 study published in JAMA found that the overall death rate for individuals taking between 4,000 and 8,000 steps per day was less than one-third of that for those taking under 4,000 steps daily.

For some more exercise inspiration, check out these Incredible Treadmill Workouts for People Over 60, Says Top Trainer.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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