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    Breaking the Myth of Reaching 10,000 Steps to Achieve a Healthy Life

    The origin of this myth dates back to 1965, in Japan, when a company launched a pedometer called "Mampo Kei", which means "10,000-step meter"

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    The world of fitness is full of myths that have endured over the years. Some of them include beliefs such as that carbohydrates consumed at night are fattening or that it is necessary to eat every 2 or 3 hours. Within this sea of myths, one that is constantly repeated is that of reaching 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health.

    The origin of this myth dates back to 1965, in Japan, when a company launched a pedometer called “Mampo Kei”, which means “10,000-step meter” in English. The Japanese kanji character for 10,000 (万) resembles a walking man, which turned out to be an excellent marketing asset for the company.

    Since then, many smartwatches, health apps, as well as other devices, have adopted that number as a baseline or daily goal. However, a meta-analysis published in The Lancet, which included 15 studies with almost 48,000 adults, concluded that for people over 60 years of age, the optimal number was 7,000 steps per day.

    The data revealed that increasing from 3,000 to 7,000 significantly reduced the risk of mortality but, beyond that, the benefits were minimal. Exceeding that number of steps may be related to other lifestyle factors that may confound the information.

    Taking more than 8,000 steps does not provide major benefits

    While it is true that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to health, it is not necessary to reach exactly 10,000 steps. For example, a study published in the prestigious JAMA magazine pointed out that the greatest benefits were obtained by taking 8,000 steps a day. While a small percentage of the population might benefit from taking more steps, the majority would see little benefit from exceeding 8,000 steps.

    As for the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), instead of establishing a specific number of steps, they have always emphasized measuring physical activity in minutes per week. According to WHO recommendations, regardless of age, it is suggested to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of intense physical activity each week. Also, it is recommended to supplement this with at least two days of strength training.

    Therefore, if you are under 60 years old, taking more than 8,000 steps will not provide much benefit, just like if you are over 60 and taking a total of 7,000 steps. Instead of becoming obsessed with reaching 10,000 steps a day, it is more important to focus on maintaining a regular physical activity routine and meeting the WHO recommended guidelines.

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