In a society like today’s, in which time is a scarce factor, those recommendations or maxims that promise to achieve effective results in any field, with the minimum possible dedication, are especially valuable. Aware of the important benefits of physical exercise for our health, we try to find formulas that allow us to include it in our daily routine without requiring a great effort in terms of time and energy.
This is one of the reasons why the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day (7 kilometers) to keep fit has been established as the maximum for millions of people around the world, who firmly trust that it is a measure backed by science and that it is the definitive answer for daily physical exercise.
The 10,000-step myth began in the 1960s in Japan, when a pedometer called “Manpo-Kei” (Japanese for 10,000-step meter) was released. This device became a great success and became popular among the Japanese population. The device had a goal of counting 10,000 steps and this number was set to
concrete, without scientific relation, because the kanji – one of the three writing systems used to write in Japanese – of 10,000 simulates a man walking ( 万 ). For this reason, society understood that 10,000 steps were optimal for achieving good fitness.
How many steps are necessary for a quality exercise?
Lacking scientific evidence, many experts have dedicated themselves to further research on the subject. In May 2019, a team of scientists from Harvard Medical School carried out research with the aim of finding the association between the volume and intensity of steps with mortality in older women. The study showed that 4,400 steps a day is enough to reduce the mortality rate.
Another study published by The Lancet revealed that people over 60 should walk about 7,000 steps and those under that age about 8,000 steps. Walking around these figures, according to the study, reduces the risk of mortality by up to 50%.
Due to the lack of concrete scientific evidence, the World Health Organization has never given an exact figure in terms of steps and, failing that, talks about activity time. The recommendations established by the agency for people between the ages of 18 and 60 is that they should perform moderate aerobic activity, between 15 and 300 minutes per week or intense aerobic activity for 75 to 150 minutes per week.
According to a study carried out by WeWard, the platform that encourages and rewards people for the steps they take, in 2021, Spaniards walk an average of 6,500 steps a day, that is, 4.49 kilometres, which is equivalent to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Regarding gender, it is men who walk the most, with an average of 7,908 steps per day (5.54 kilometers) while women barely reach 7,000 steps (4.9 kilometers).