Ibsen Martinez

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How many steps do you actually need to walk in a day?

3 min read

But where did 10,000 steps come from? And does anyone really need to walk that much in a day just to be healthy?

To find out, I talked to former Surgeon General Dr. Kenneth P. Moritsugu. I wanted professional input on what a real daily step goal should be.

How many steps do I need to take in a day?

According to Dr. Moritsugu, 10,000 steps per day was simply a marketing gimmick—and not based on real health advice.


“The number of steps a person takes in a day is not an ideal benchmark nor is it an accurate indicator of physical health,” Moritsugu said. “In fact, the concept of walking 10,000 steps a day as the minimum for good health was inspired by marketing, not science, when a Japanese company launched a new pedometer named the ‘10,000-step meter’ with the slogan, ‘Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day.'”

He went on to explain that the minimum number of steps for a healthy lifestyle, but it isn’t just about steps. Exercise is critical to your health.

“In 2019, a study went on to confirm that taking only 4,400 steps can be beneficial to your health. Instead, regular exercise should be the goal, even if it is just 20 minutes per day.”

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Dr. Moritsugu had concerns over how the pandemic had impacted American’s exercise habits. Regular physical activity can help prevent chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, all three of which are co-morbidities associated with COVID-19. More than 70% of Americans fall into the obesity category (having a Body Mass Index higher than 30).

Health benefits of walking

According to the American Heart Association, the benefits of walking include: