Achieving Health Goals: Is Walking 4,000 Steps a Day Sufficient for Fitness?


A general assumption is that anyone who takes 10,000 steps a day stays healthy. There have been scientific doubts about this number for a long time – now a meta-analysis has shown that even shorter walks are helpful.Exercise is good for you – that’s a well-known fact. Not only running, but also simply going for a walk ensures better blood circulation, trains the metabolism, strengthens the immune system and counteracts chronic diseases.If you used to count calories, today you count steps, specifically: 10,000 a day. Anyone who takes that many steps a day – depending on the length of the step, about six to eight kilometers on foot – stays fit and healthy – according to the previous idea.

Meta-analysis refutes 10,000-step theory

There have been scientific doubts about this supposedly magical value for a long time – now a new meta-analysis published in the “European Journal of Preventive Cardiology” shows that just under 4,000 steps a day are enough to reduce the risk of early death. Even 2,300 steps a day were associated with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.The researchers evaluated a total of 17 studies and thus had access to the data of almost 227,000 people from different regions of the world. They found that walking every day is closely associated with better chances of living longer, healthier lives – regardless of age, gender or location.Basically, the more you walk, the better. Taking an additional 1,000 steps per day is associated with a 15 percent reduced risk of dying prematurely from any cause, according to the analysis. Increasing your daily step count by 500 is associated with a 7 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease.

The 10,000-step idea goes back to marketing

Incidentally, the 10,000-step rule has never been scientifically proven, but presumably goes back to the clever marketing strategy of a Japanese company.In keeping with the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Yamasa company launched the first wearable pedometer in 1964, the “Manpo-kei” – which means something like “10,000 step counter”. This number of steps keeps you fit and is an expression of a healthy lifestyle, the manufacturer explained. A thesis that quickly established itself as a general recommendation – but has now been refuted at the latest.