The Number Of Steps Linked To A Longer Life

This number of steps every day can lower the risk of early death by 70 percent.

This number of steps every day can lower the risk of early death by 70 percent.

Walking 7,000 steps (5.6 km or 3 miles) each day lowers the risk of death by about two-thirds in adults compared to those who walk less.

A study has found that middle-aged adults who walked at least 7,000 steps each day had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of dying prematurely.

They also say that walking faster or taking more steps than 10,000 a day didn’t reduce the risk of death any further.

The commonly-repeated advice on walking 10,000 steps every day is not based on scientific evidence, but actually is from a Japanese company marketing a pedometer.

Therefore, the researchers wanted to find out whether this 10,000 steps a day target can really provide health benefits and longevity.

Dr Amanda Paluch and her team began with one question:

“How many steps per day do we need for health benefits?

That would be great to know for a public health message or for clinician-patient communication.”

For this study, 2,110 participants aged 38 to 50 years were followed for 11 years.

They were divided into three groups: high- step volume for more than 10,000 steps a day, moderate for 7,000 to 9,999 steps a day, and low for less than 7,000 steps a day.

Dr Paluch said:

“You see this gradual risk reduction in mortality as you get more steps.

There were substantial health benefits between 7,000 and 10,000 steps but we didn’t see an additional benefit from going beyond 10,000 steps.

For people at 4,000 steps, getting to 5,000 is meaningful.

And from 5,000 to 6,000 steps, there is an incremental risk reduction in all-cause mortality up to about 10,000 steps.”

While previous studies related to steps have often been focused on older adults, this research involved middle-aged people.

The results suggest that people would stay healthier and live longer if they added this amount of regular steps to their everyday lives.

Dr Paluch said:

“Preventing those deaths before average life expectancy — that is a big deal.

Showing that steps per day could be associated with premature mortality is a new contribution to the field.”

A weight loss study has also suggested the 10,000 steps rule as the gold standard.

They have also found that people would see the physical and mental health benefits of walking even by just doing 7,500 steps.

A different study by Spartano & colleagues on the effect of light physical activity on reducing brain aging suggest 10,000 steps each day:

“Achieving 10 000 or more steps per day was associated with higher brain volume compared with those achieving fewer than 5000 steps per day.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.


The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Paluch et al., 2021).


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