Ask An Expert·2 min read

Do We Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day to Reap Health Benefits?

Dear Expert,

Do we really need to walk 10,000 steps a day to reap health benefits?

Dear Anonymous,

No, we don't. Exercise scientists like myself aren’t sure where this concept came from, but we think a fitness tracker manufacturer had something to do with it. Walking this much is a great goal — 10,000 steps equals about five miles — but it's not necessary and may not be realistic for most people. 

In fact, research points to 7,000 steps as the sweet spot for health improvement. But if you only get 3,000 or 5,000, that's better than 100 — which is still better than lying in bed all day. Also, there are other ways to get physical activity that have nothing to do with how many steps you take, and saying that you have to walk to be healthy is insensitive to people with certain disabilities. The real answer is that some exercise — whether walking or something else — is better than none.

Featured Expert

 NiCole R. Keith

NiCole R. Keith - Professor of kinesiology at IUPUI and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine

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