Is 10,000 the magic number?

10000 steps

Chances are, you’ve filed away the suggestion to walk 10,000 steps a day as another cliché health tip, like drinking eight glasses of water. However, that number is back in the forefront with the surge in popularity of smart pedometers or fitness trackers, like Fitbit, because the suggested goal for people starting out is 10,000 steps. But what makes 10,000 the right number?

Why 10,000?

The 10,000 step goal got its origin in Japan in 1965 and it wasn’t exactly a scientific or medical suggestion. It began as a slogan for a Japanese pedometer and was used to get people excited about walking. When the step craze hit the U.S. in the early ‘90s, the 10,000 step slogan became the recommendation for good health.

Since then, the suggestion has been studied and found to have significant health benefits, especially for people who live a more sedentary life.

Walking 10,000 steps equates to about five miles a day, which is quite an increase for those who sit at a desk all day. It comes out to about 90 active minutes a day, which is three times the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, it recommends adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as brisk walking. To meet the CDC's recommendation, you would only need to walk about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day.1

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found the use of a pedometer leads to great increases in physical activity and weight loss and helps lower blood pressure. Although two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC, only 45 percent of Americans get enough physical activity. However, with the use of smart pedometers, they were shown to increase physical activity by just over 2,000 steps, or about one mile of walking per day.2

For many, 10,000 steps may seem like a daunting task, especially since the average American walks about 5,900 steps. The Mayo Clinic recommends people using pedometers first set short-term goals, such as taking an extra 1,000 steps daily for one week, and then build up to a long-term goal such as 10,000 steps.1

Although the 10,000 step goal is merely a suggestion and not a prescription, building up to walking that amount should help improve your health. Whether it helps you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, or just gets you moving, it’s not a bad goal to have every day.

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