Do You Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day?

Health Articles
March 5, 2020

As many will tell you, when using an activity tracker, the main goal of your day is to reach 10,000 steps. But where does this figure come from? Why 10,000 steps? And do we really need to reach that number every day?

10,000 steps per day: beyond WHO recommendations

You’ve probably read that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy. Well, that’s not the whole story. The 10,000 step goal was actually invented by a Japanese man as a marketing argument to sell his pedometer, the manpo-kei. So it had nothing to do with health—it was just a nice round figure to display in advertisements!
In reality, the WHO recommends 150 minutes of activity per week, divided into sessions of a minimum of 10 minutes of moderate effort. This represents approximately 30 minutes of walking per day, five days a week. Knowing that the average normal speed of a pedestrian is between 4.8 and 6.4 km/hour, and 10,000 steps represent between 6 and 7 km., 10,000 steps per day represents 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise—between 420 and 630 minutes per week. Imagine reaching that target every day. Thus, those numbers are far beyond the WHO’S official recommendations!

Not everyone can walk 10,000 steps

For some people, a goal of 10,000 steps per day is not appropriate. If it’s too ambitious, it can be demotivating to not reach your goal. If you have a sedentary job, are obese, or have a chronic illness, setting a goal of 10,000 steps is definitely not a good idea. Walking 3000 steps a day can be an accomplishment and a success for some people. A study led by Doctor Catrine Tudor-Locke, published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine and supported by other scientists, supports the idea that, for those who are 18–65 years old, the ideal goal is to walk for approximately 30 minutes per day at a steady pace. It’s up to you to find the pace and the number of steps that suit you.

Adjust your daily step goal

In the Health Mate app, you can adjust your goal to better suit your lifestyle and needs. Do not hesitate to lower your goal, or even increase it later! It is better to walk 3000 steps per day and then gradually increase to around 6000 steps per day than not to walk at all because you’re not in the mood for exercise. See our blog post on how to set the best goal for you. As a study in the European Heart Journal shows, regular activity can prevent cardiovascular disease, and walking is good for your health.

Numbers to help you feel less guilt

  • The average number of steps per month for our community is 5,284 steps per day and per user in 2019. On average, our users achieved their step goals 29 times a year (29 days out of 365!) We tend to hear more about whether people reach a 10,000 step goal, rather than whether they reach the goals they set for themselves.
  • A study led by a team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has shown that to achieve optimal health, walking 7,500 steps per day is sufficient.

Now that you know what is right for you and how to push yourself, you can set your own goal to find the right balance between motivation and comfort. Don’t hesitate to join the Withings Activity Mates — Motivation & Challenges group on Facebook to find motivation and then share your successes and challenges with our caring community.