The 10,000 Steps Myth: Healthier Habits To Get Moving

Fitness coach Taeler De Haes has some hot takes on the idea of 10,000 steps:. 

Myth Busted

By this point the idea of “getting 10,000 steps” is well-known. Here’s the thing though — 10,000 is not some ~magical~ number for being healthy. Sometimes it can actually become unhealthily obsessive.  

Now don’t get me wrong, movement is obviously important...but there’s a fine line between health and obsession. When’s the last time you took your activity tracker off? So before you stress about getting in those last steps for the day, let’s look at where this 10k number came from.


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Japan, 1965

Over half a century ago the Japanese company Yamasa Clock seemingly sold pedometers called “Manpo-kei” which translates to “10,000 steps meter.” The brand slogan was “Let’s walk 10k steps a day” cementing that number as a default goal for generations.

Bottom line: 10k is a number made up by corporate marketers, and it doesn’t matter. 

Being Smart About Steps

Stepping is still important — it’s a great way to manage weight, stress, and overall health. 

GET THIS: a 2019 study supported by the National Cancer Institute and the NHLBI suggested older women who walk about 4,000 steps a day (about two miles) decreased their mortality by 40% compared to women who took less than 2,800 steps on average. AND they found that anything above 7,500 steps provided no additional benefit. Source: Jama Network


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Isn’t That NEAT

The goal of getting more steps is to increase NEAT — non-exercise activity thermogenesis —  which is basically any activity outside of a workout routine. We spend an hour in the gym, but what the heck are you doing for the other 16 hours of your day?

Here are some habits to get moving without obsessing over a number:


  • Take a 10-minute walk after every meal.
  • Park further away from entrances when you’re running errands.
  • Walk (don’t drive) to get your coffee.
  • Listen to your favorite podcast while walking outside.
  • Clean a room in your house.
  • Take your dog (or cat, you do you) for an extra walk.



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