One of the first things we do when setting up our fitness tracker is setting how many steps we want to take each day. But the amount we are setting is really way off from what we need.
And by that, we don’t mean increasing it to be more than 10,000.
Since the beginning of fitness tracking time, it seems like 10,000 steps per day as being the magic number.
But according to a new study, only 4,400 steps per day are needed to be healthy when it comes to lowering mortality rates.
Of course, there is a catch. This is true only for older women.
4,440 Steps A Day Keep The Doctor Away… For Older Women
That’s not to say that women should be discouraged from increasing that number. The study found that those who took at least 4,440 steps had a lower mortality rate when compared to those who only took 2,700 steps per day.
Conducted at Harvard University and published in the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers studied data from 16,741 women with a mean age of 72-years-old between 2011 and 2015. They measured their daily steps for one week.
The researchers found that at least 4,440 steps was the magic number for the women when it came to lowering mortality rates.
To find this they followed up with the study participants just over four years later.
“A goal of 10 000 steps/d is commonly believed by the public to be necessary for health, but this number has limited scientific basis,” the researchers write.
And while the study concluded that less than 10,000 steps but greater than 2,700 steps are needed to increase health, it did not find any relation to the intensity or speed of the steps.
“Additionally, it is unknown whether greater stepping intensity is associated with health benefits, independent of steps taken per day,” they add.
The study just goes to show that walking even in older age still has health benefits.
How many Steps Do We Really Need To be Tracked?
Keep in mind the study was only among elderly women and for seven days.
Interestingly enough, the 10,000 step number came from the brand name of a Japanese pedometer. There is no scientific research to prove this is the number of steps needed to be healthy.
And although the study also found that the benefit faded among those who walked 7,500 steps per day, younger people should not give up on getting up to 10,00 steps per track on their fitness tracker or more.
Since we should be getting at least 150-minutes of moderate exercise in a week (plus strength training), we should be encouraged to walk away—that is, continue to keep on walking, jogging or running.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average American is walking 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day. That is the equivalent of about one and a half to two miles.
Those looking to lose weight or increase fitness so aim for at least 10,000 steps per day and higher.