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  • Cameron Oglesby

The truth behind the 10,000 steps a day rule

Updated: May 5

The truth is, it isn't a medical standard and has no medical research to support it. So where, then, did the famous 10,000 steps a day rule come from?

In 1964, in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics, the Yamasa Clock and Instrument Company introduced a pedometer called "Manko-pei" – which translates as 10,000 steps. And that choice probably had more to do with marketing than medicine; it's taxing enough to be a goal, but achievable enough to strive for.

But it didn't have any medical research, a problem that was solved in mere 86 years later in a University of Amherst study. In it, researchers analyzed data on more than 10,000 people across four continents compiled between 15 previous studies.

And here's what they found:

There is no one number.

It varies with, among other things, age.

It's probably closer to 6,000 steps a day.

One size doesn't fit all.

There's a kind of leveling effect, where extra steps add to risk of death ,rather than decreasing it. "And the leveling occurred at different values for older versus younger adults," said epidemiologist Amanda Paluch.

Paluch and her team also published research in 2021, based on more than 2,000 middle-age Americans, finding at least 7,000 steps a day lowered chance of death by 50 to70 percent. Their 2022 meta-analysis found that the 25 percent of adults had 40 to 53 percent lower chance of dying , and for older adults this reduced risk topped out at somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 steps a day.

It also goes to show something that we at Senior Insights never forget: that all people – seniors included – are individuals, each with their own individual needs, wants, and outlooks. So we never rely on stereotypes or surface appearances. That’s why our thorough three-part needs assessment covers everything from physical, psychological and mental status to mobility issues, nutritional needs and legal wishes. And why it involves not only clients, but also their caregivers and families.


What we learn becomes the foundation for custom-designing a holistic, coordinated care plan. Please contact us to see the difference this approach can make.

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