The ubiquity of wearable fitness trackers has helped popularized the notion that reaching 10,000 daily steps is optimal for one's health, but a new study suggests this goal may be arbitrary and overly ambitious for many Americans.
"Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women," published May 29 via JAMA Internal Medicine, in part, explores the origin of the 10,000-steps-per-day standard.
Lead study author I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women's Hospital states that the standard was not scientifically determined and was instead popularized by a decades-old Japanese marketing campaign promoting a pedometer.
Lee and her colleagues conducted a study of approximately 17,000 older women to better determine a medically accurate daily step goal. The study subjects, whose average age was 72, wore wearable devices to track their steps for at least seven consecutive days. They then reported their lifestyle habits and medical histories over a four-year analysis period, during which 500 of the women died.
Lee concluded that women who averaged about 4,000 daily steps were 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period versus those who took fewer steps.
The researchers also found that longevity benefits largely maxed out near 7,500 daily steps. The study states that most Americans currently average between 4,000 steps to 5,000 steps.
This study continues a recent research trend suggesting Americans need less activity than previously believed to promote longevity. A January 2019 study published via the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal claims brief, functional bouts of aerobic activity, such as climbing stairs for 20 seconds, can ultimately improve one's cardiorespiratory fitness.