At EverWalk, we love our epic walkers — those folks who head out for fifteen, twenty, fifty miles a day — and seem none the worse for the wear, but rather invigorated by long distances they cover. They certainly embody the epic in walking. But for many people, a long walk like that is not what they want or need. And yet, they enjoy walking and feel that it’s good for them. This raises the question, how far is far enough for most people when it comes to walking? Is farther, in fact, better?
In fact, no. More and more studies are showing that it’s actually not important that we walk far — but rather that just that we walk at all.
Many of us try to do our 10,000 steps a day, which translates into roughly five miles of walking. Where did that number come from? Is it truly the number for optimum health? Actually, it’s a totally made-up number.
A recent New York Times article (read it HERE) tells us:
According to Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert on step counts and health, the 10,000-steps target became popular in Japan in the 1960s. A clockmaker, hoping to capitalize on interest in fitness after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, mass-produced a pedometer with a name that, when written in Japanese characters, resembled a walking man. It also translated as “10,000-steps meter,” creating a walking aim that, through the decades, somehow became embedded in our global consciousness — and fitness trackers.
This made-up number became engrafted in the public psyche, even becoming the fitness benchmark for most pedometers and fitness trackers.
The truth, according to the same article, is that the number most people need to shoot for is quite a bit lower:
A 2019 study by Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of premature death by about 40 percent, compared to women completing 2,700 or fewer steps a day. The risks for early death continued to drop among the women walking more than 5,000 steps a day, but benefits plateaued at about 7,500 daily steps. In other words, older women who completed fewer than half of the mythic 10,000 daily steps tended to live substantially longer than those who covered even less ground.
Additionally, “Another, more expansive study last year of almost 5,000 middle-aged men and women of various ethnicities likewise found that 10,000 steps a day are not a requirement for longevity. In that study, people who walked for about 8,000 steps a day were half as likely to die prematurely from heart disease or any other cause as those who accumulated 4,000 steps a day. The statistical benefits of additional steps were slight, meaning it did not hurt people to amass more daily steps, up to and beyond the 10,000-steps mark. But the extra steps did not provide much additional protection against dying young, either.“
These numbers are increasingly being confirmed by studies and health organizations around the globe. Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of GPs concur, and suggest that focusing on time, rather than distance or quantity of steps, is more important. They believe that adults who carry out at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week can reduce the risk of early death by up to 15%.
Here at EverWalk, we believe that The EverWalk MILE is a great way for walkers to commit to daily health. To walk a mile a day, every day, creates a commitment to movement, to getting outside, to getting up instead of sitting and staring at a screen. A daily habit is a game-changer for many people — and brings with it all the mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of walking.
So if you are looking to create a regular walking habit, check out The EverWalk Mile. Read more about it HERE, download our monthly calendar, and use our Pacer platform to track your mile a day with a GPS of your favorite routes. (Click the yellow lozenge in the upper right-hand corner of the website to join EverWalk Nation and Pacer.)
A mile a day can be a game-changer. Walk your EverWalk MILE!