Optimal Step Count for Health: Study Reevaluates the 10,000-Step Benchmark

Rethinking the 10,000 Steps Goal

When it comes to the number of steps we should take every day to minimize the risk of premature death, studies are all over the place. A new study, carried out by a team from the University of Granada (UGR), puts the figure at 8,000, equivalent to about 6 km of walking. The data, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), provides at least an order of magnitude that seems to provide the greatest benefits, but which is only taken into account by a small minority of the population.

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In other words, the study debates the generally accepted target of 10,000 steps a day, especially when focusing on the risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and promises more benefits with around 8,000 steps.

Considering the average length of a human stride (76 centimeters for men and 67 centimeters for women), taking 8,000 steps is equivalent to walking about 6.4 kilometers a day. “Traditionally, many people think they need to take around 10,000 steps a day to get these health and longevity benefits,” summarizes lead author Francisco B. Ortega, Professor of Physical Education and Sport at the UGR.



In addition, although the distance covered remains the main reference, the pace of walking is also described as a determining factor for its health benefits.

Key Findings from the University of Granada Study

The study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 12 international studies involving more than 110,000 participants. Carried out at the University of Granada (UGR), it provides new evidence on how far you can walk to reduce cardiovascular risk. Among other findings, the analysis reveals that:

  • The more steps you take, the better.
  • There is no excessive number of steps that is harmful to health.
  • The number of daily steps is adaptable to each individual.
  • 7,000 to 9,000 steps is a reasonable health goal for most people.
  • Measurable benefits can be obtained with small increases in the number of steps per day: for example, for people with low levels of physical activity, an extra 500 steps and a gradual increase in the number of steps already improves health.
  • Health benefits are achieved with less than 10,000 steps. This is generally good news, as not everyone can take around 9,000 steps a day, either for reasons of time or health.
  • There is no difference between men and women.
  • Faster walking is associated with a reduced risk of mortality, regardless of the total number of steps taken per day.

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Practical Implications and Broader Health Benefits

Should we avoid walking even more? “Absolutely not,” say the authors. Taking even more steps is never a bad thing. Our study shows that taking up to 16,000 steps a day carries no risk.

There are even some additional benefits, but beyond a certain threshold, the differences in terms of risk reduction become minimal. In addition, the progression target needs to be age-appropriate, with younger people able to set a higher target than older people.

Finally, this analysis more broadly supports the many other studies and scientific evidence showing that moderate physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits, including improved sleep quality and mental health, among others. However, the aim is to provide the public with goals that are easily measurable and, with this number of daily steps, perhaps clearer than the current guidelines for physical activity.

Read Also: Study Exposes the Dark Side of Excessive Exercise and Its Impact on Your Health

Final Thoughts

Beyond app updates, this study nudges us toward a broader rethink of fitness norms. It’s not just about tweaking numbers on a screen; it’s about reshaping our entire approach to daily activity. This could mean more realistic goals in public health policies and a fresh, more inclusive perspective in fitness circles. It’s a step towards making health a truly achievable aim for everyone.


Lee, D-c., et al. (2023). Relationship of Daily Step Counts to All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Events. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 82(15), 1495-1498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2023.08.011



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