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How Many Pedometer Steps Per Day are Enough?

New pedometer steps recommendations from Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

10000 Pedometer Steps

10000 Pedometer Steps

Mark Harmel / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

How many steps per day are enough? Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke has been studying pedometer walking and shares the results of her research.

Is 10,000 Steps a Magic Number?

A goal of 10,000 steps per day has become common, based on promotion in Japan by pedometer companies and its adoption by walking clubs. But there was no body of research to back up that number. Numbers as low as 6000 steps a day were shown to be correlated with a lower death rate in men in the Harvard Study.

Many people view 10,000 steps a day as too few for children, yet not achievable by many who are aged, sedentary, or who have chronic diseases. Some suggest instead of using a blanket 10,000 steps per day that instead the goal be based on the individual's baseline plus an increment of steps. For example, a woman who wears a pedometer in her ordinary activities notes that she logs 4000 steps per day. Her goal should be to add the equivalent of a half hour of walking to her day, for example 2000-3000 more steps per day.

Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a "sedentary lifestyle index"
2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered "low active." The average American walks 5900 to 6900 steps per day, so the majority are "low active."
3) 7,500-9,999 steps/day likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered "somewhat active."
4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as "active".
5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as "highly active".

What Should Your Step Count Goal Be?

To match physical activity recommendations for heart health, Dr. Catrine Tudor Locke gave this advice in a paper in 2010. A goal 10,000 steps per day is a good rule of thumb, with this more-specific advice:
  • Increase your daily steps by 3000-4000 steps spent in 10-minute or longer bouts at moderate to vigorous intensity -- brisk walking to jogging. How fast is brisk walking?
  • Achieve a goal of 8900 - 9900 steps at least five days per week with at least 3000 steps of moderate to vigorous intensity (brisk walking to running) bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Alternatively, achieve a goal of 9150 - 10,150 steps at least three days per week with at least 3250 steps  of vigorous intensity (jogging or running) bouts of 10 minutes or more.

Increasing Your Steps Per Day

SOURCES:

Tudor-Locke, Catrine, Bassett, David R Jr. "How Many Steps/Day Are Enough?: Preliminary Pedometer Indices for Public Health" Sports Medicine. 34(1):1-8, 2004.

Tudor-Locke, Catrine. "Steps to Better Cardiovascular Health: How Many Steps Does It Take to Achieve Good Health and How Confident Are We in This Number? " Curr Cardio Risk Rep (2010) 4:271–276 DOI 10.1007/s12170-010-0109-5

 

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