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How many steps is enough ? The 10,000 step question.

How much walking is enough ?

Walking is great for our health, both mental and physical. But how much walking is enough ? People believe that we ‘should’ walk 10,000 steps a day for health, but did you know The 10,000 steps protocol originated back in 1965 when a Japanese company made a device called Manpo-kei. This translated to ’10,000 steps meter’ and it was intended as a marketing tool for their pedometer. So that’s what started the idea of needing to achieve 10,000 steps a day. Marketing, Not Science !

How do we know what is right for us ?

And what is right for our health as we become older ‘female athletes’. More on this topic and the ground breaking work of NZ based Dr Stacy Sims in another blog.
https://www.bookdepository.com...Meanwhile, specifically focussing in this blog, on walking and the how many steps question… So if it's not 10,000 steps necessarily how many steps "should' we aim for ?

What does the research say ?

There has been some research that illuminates the relationship between health and physical activity in older women. Professor Min-Lee has been studying the relationship between physical activity and health in older women for some time. In 2019 she published a study where she took her 10,000 steps curiosity to the midlife women demographic. The research looked at over 16,000 women aged between 62 years to 101 years and for 4 years between 2011 and 2015, all participants wore tracking devices during waking hours.

Why did they do that ?

The researchers wanted to explore whether increased steps were associated with fewer deaths. The findings from the study are important for us all to know – especially for those women struggling to find the time, energy and motivation to exercise. The key findings from the study include:

  • Sedentary women averaged 2,700 steps a day.
  • Women who averaged 4,400 daily steps had a 41% reduction in mortality.
  • Mortality rates progressively improved before levelling off at approximately 7,500 steps per day.

What were the key findings about counting steps ?

As the researchers concluded, if you want to prevent an early death, then walking matters, and some is better than none. And there is no long term benefit to walking more than 7,500 steps daily for this age group. So if you are pushed for time and motivation, then this study suggests you can reap benefits from even less than 7,500 steps a day. That’s 25% fewer steps than the more common goal of 10,000 steps.

Every step counts” says Professor Min-Lee, “but don’t be intimidated by having to get 10,000 steps (especially) if you are a woman in menopause or post-menopause.”

What if you have a very low step count daily ?

If you’re typically sedentary then you are probably doing around 2000 steps daily just in your day to day movement, so try to add 2,000 more daily steps. this will give you an average of at least 4,400 daily steps. It’s not necessary to walk it all at once. Instead, try to take extra steps over the course of each waking hour. Maybe walk to your local Pilates studio, Turning Tide Pilates studio in West Auckland and take a class with us. Pilates is a bone safe, low impact yet very strengthening activity suitable for all bodies and especially transformative for our aging sedentary population.

Research and Inspiration

I-Min Lee, Shiroma, E.,Masamitsu K. et.al, (2019). Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women. JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 29, 2019.


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