Staying active is incredibly important for both your mental and physical health. It helps you live longer, reduces the risk of many diseases, and improves overall happiness and wellbeing.
Walking is one of the best ways to consistently get enough exercise, as it means going out in the fresh air more – and it’s low impact and easy to maintain.
However, there’s mixed advice about how many steps a day is needed to experience health benefits. Many people believe that 10,000 steps is the best daily goal, but this guidance varies depending on the source and it’s not clear how valid it is.
Now, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have looked into how many steps you should be walking every day to stay healthy.
The researchers explored the data from over a dozen previous studies, with data from nearly 50,000 adults of different ages. According to the results, the most important factor in determining how many steps people should walk is their age.
For the over 60s, a daily target of 6,000 – 8,000 steps each day may be enough to increase life expectancy and improve health outcomes. But, anyone younger than this would need to walk between 8,000 and 10,000 to experience the same benefits.
Researcher Amanda Paluch noted, “The major takeaway is there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those who are doing very little activity. More steps per day are better for your health.
The benefit in terms of mortality risk levels off around 6,000 to 8,000 for older adults and 8,000 to 10,000 for younger adults. Steps are very simple to track, and there is a rapid growth of fitness tracking devices. It’s such a clear communication tool for public health messaging.”