If you’re one of the millions of people worldwide tracking your steps, you’ve probably heard of the magic number: 10,000. Some step trackers have even become unhealthily obsessed with getting 10,000 every day, but a recent study revealed some good news — the ideal step count might actually be a lot lower.
According to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, women who walked just 4,400 steps a day had a significantly lower mortality rate than women who took 2,700 or fewer steps per day.
The study followed the walking habits over seven days of 16,741 women age 62 to 101; their average age was 72.
The researchers then checked in with the subjects over the course of 4.3 years, during which 504 of the participants had died.
Of those deaths, 275 were women who averaged the fewest daily steps, averaging 2,700. The mortality rate among more active subjects decreased steadily between 4,400 and 7,500 daily steps; above that step count, the rate leveled off.
So why the obsession with getting 10,000 steps every day? The goal may originate with product placement, not research.
I-Min Lee, the lead author of the study, told CNN that the original number dates back to 1965 and a Japanese pedometer company.
These early pedometers were called Manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000 step meter” in Japanese. “That number was less based on science than on marketing purposes,” Lee explained
So before you frantically walk your stairs at the end of each day to meet your 10,000 mark, remember that 4,400 to 7,500 is a much more attainable, and incredibly effective, step number.
Maybe the next Fitbit iteration will be called the “4,400 step meter.”