Should I Aim for 10,000 Steps a Day?

Leisure Pursuits

You may have heard that 10,000 daily steps should be the goal for people who use a step counter. While it is a popular goal — and one that may inspire you to keep moving — that number actually came from marketing, not science. In the 1960s, marketers in Japan were selling a new step counter. They chose 10,000 steps to promote the device. The number caught on.

It’s about time

For health benefits, experts recommend focusing on active time, not distance or steps taken. Most adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week.* For example, you might walk or ride a bike at a brisk but not too fast pace.

If you’re up to it, you may want to aim for 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise.* You might try jogging or riding a bike at a fast pace.

Keep in mind that:

  • It’s best to spread your exercise minutes out over each week. You might work out 30 minutes at a time. Or you could go for 10 minutes of exercise here and there throughout the day.
  • You can also try two days of strength exercises, like lifting weights. Such activities may help keep our bodies strong as we age.

Every step counts

When it comes to good health, 10,000 steps isn’t a number you have to focus on. Try to get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

But remember: Any amount of exercise you can do is better than none. For all of us, it can be good for our health to simply move more and sit less.

*Talk with your doctor before increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you.

Are wearables right for you? Learn the pros and cons of smart watches and fitness trackers.

Sources: American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute on Aging