10,000 Steps Is a Bullshit Goal
More exercise is better than less, but beyond that, there’s nothing special about taking 10,000 steps each day.
That goal may have started with a popular Japanese pedometer of the 1960s named manpo-kei, the “10,000-step meter.” It was just a catchy name, but it stuck because it’s a good goal for at least some of us. 10,000 steps is roughly five miles—challenging but not impossible to fit into a busy day.
Once the number was in the popular consciousness, it became a common benchmark in studies of exercise and health. If you’re comparing two step-count numbers, why not make one of them 10,000? But, as the Guardian reports, that ends up making 10,000 steps look like something special, when really any reasonably large number would have worked.
Even if you get all your exercise by walking, you can meet the American Heart Association’s recommendations with just 20 to 30 minutes of walking. Add that to the steps you’ll take as part of an average somewhat-sedentary life, and you get about 7,500.
So how many steps do you really need? If you live in a city and walk everywhere, 10,000 might be nothing to you. You’re getting plenty of steps, but if you can work in even more, you’ll be that much better off. Think you can do 15,000? Go for it!
But if you struggle to reach 10,000 for whatever reason, go into the settings of whatever app is tracking your steps, and adjust the goal. Not that you want to slack off, but it can be motivating to see a goal that’s within reach—not a number that’s only on your screen because some ad executive half a century ago thought it sounded clever.