Here’s the Surprising Number of Steps You Can Take To Start Raising Your Health Levels

Anyone with a fitness tracking gizmo knows that they are led towards the goal of making 10,000 steps per day in order to optimize their health. But where did that number come from? And how true it is? Fortunately, science has sought to put that number to the test, and while 10k is an ideal benchmark for prolonging your life, the welcome news is that the health benefits start to kick-in at a much lower level.

Where did we get the idea that 10,000 steps is optimum for our health?

Interestingly, the popularization of this number was the result of a highly engaging marketing campaign for an early pedometer device that took hold ahead of the 1964 Olympic Games. While this knowledge has made many people skeptical about the accuracy of the figure, more recent studies have shown that 10k is pretty close to the mark when it comes to staving off heart disease, cancer, and other causes of death.

However, the difficulty with making 10,000 steps an hour is the practicality of it. 10k steps equates to around 5 miles or 8 kilometers, dependent on your stride length. And, with more of us working from home than ever before, the opportunity to walk to the office or take a scenic working lunch break is becoming more and more scarce. For many people, getting their steps in requires a trip to the gym treadmill, but with the barbells seemingly bellowing our names from the free weight rack, how important are steps and how many should we aim for at a bare minimum?

How many steps should we be aiming for according to the latest research?

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has concluded that anything above 2,200 steps per day will raise your chances of living longer. To get to these results, Brit-based scientists led by the University of Sydney analyzed the data of more than 70,000 people. After their exercise levels had been measured, 2,200 steps emerged as a clear starting point for a decline in heart disease and other fatal illnesses. Even more encouragingly, it didn’t matter how much of the rest of that day was spent in a sedentary state, so long as they racked up the correct number during the rest of the day. While 2,200 steps proves to be an enticing starting point, the report concludes that around 10k is still a solid benchmark for lowering the risk of call-cause mortality including cancer and heart disease.

“People should be encouraged to be physically active even at the lowest levels,” commented the researchers at Imperial College London. If combined with effective behavioral strategies, this type of information could be used to motivate the least mobile individuals among us to increase their quantity of steps, while inspiring those more active individuals to reach the exalted 10,000 step benchmark.

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