Do You Need 10,000 Steps a Day?

Thanks to WNET’s Nature for supporting this
episode. Check out The Serengeti Rules on PBS and and follow the career journey and discoveries of five pioneering ecologists! According to fitness trackers and pedometers,
people — if possible — should take at least ten thousand steps each day to live
a healthy lifestyle. But… why? I mean, I know exercise is good for you, but
what’s so special about ten thousand steps? How did doctors and scientists figure out
this was the perfect number for maintaining health and fitness? Well, as it turns out… they didn’t figure
this out. In reality, this nice, round number just isn’t
backed up by science. As far as anyone can tell, this figure can
be traced to the mid-1960s in Japan, when the world’s first wearable pedometer came
out. Its developers named their device Manpo-Kei,
which translates to “ten thousand step meter.” Then, they took advantage of the hype around
the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to promote it. Now, decades later, people are trying to walk
this massive number of steps thanks to some ingenious marketing and… not much else Because again, there’s no conclusive evidence
that ten thousand steps a day should be your ultimate health goal. Instead, many studies suggest that how fast
you move — whether you’re walking or doing something else — is much more important. Papers have shown that moderate or vigorous
exercise is associated with fewer depression symptoms, reduced feelings of anxiety, better
sleep quality, higher bone strength, and more. That explains why many public health guidelines
recommend a certain amount of time for an activity like this, not a certain number of steps. For example, the Physical Activity Guidelines
for Americans states that the average adult should get a minimum of one hundred fifty
minutes of moderate exercise or seventy-five minutes of vigorous exercise each week. If you really want to translate those guidelines
into steps, though, you can do that. Like, let’s say you want to get in some
moderate activity. For an exercise to be considered this intensity,
you need to burn at least three times the amount of energy you would at rest. And research has shown that, for some adults,
that’s equivalent to walking at a pace of about a hundred steps per minute, or roughly
four kilometers per hour. So to satisfy those U.S. guidelines, you’d
need to walk around fifteen thousand steps at this pace over the whole week, or approximately
twenty-one hundred steps per day. That number won’t make your pedometer happy,
but it will likely get your heart rate up. This being said, though, don’t worry if
you can’t get in those steps. There are tons of other ways to exercise if
walking a certain amount just isn’t a possibility. Like, there are plenty of people with mobility
issues and disabilities that lead healthy and active lives without keeping tabs on a
step counter. But in any case, if you can fit in some moderate
or vigorous activity, your health will likely be better for it. If you enjoyed watching this episode of SciShow,
we’ve got something else you’ll probably enjoy: a new documentary from PBS Nature. The film is called Nature: The Serengeti Rules,
and it follows the story of five unsung heroes of modern ecology. Beginning in the 1960s, these researchers
headed out into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity about how nature works. And while they were immersed in some of the
most spectacular places on Earth — like the Serengeti in Africa — they discovered
a single set of rules that governs all life and offers hope for the fate of our planet. In the documentary, the ecologists share the
stories of their adventures, and how their pioneering work on keystone species flipped
our view of nature on its head. This film premieres /tonight/ — that’s
October 9th, 2019 — at 8PM Eastern Time on PBS. But if you’re watching this video in the
future, you can find it at or on the PBS video app. If you watch it, let us know what you think! ♪♪♪

100 thoughts on “Do You Need 10,000 Steps a Day?”

  1. If 'moderate' exercise is only 4km/h of walking, I'm literally doing then anytime I walk anywhere. Is it really exercise if I'm just walking to the freezer to get some ice cream?

  2. I average 5000 on relax days and 10-20k steps on busy days. Those are also watch tracking steps. Around 10 miles not most phone health app steps where 20k steps are 5miles. As for health – my bmi is nearly perfect as is my cholesterol, blood glucose, heart rate, and blood pressure. So I guess the steps do work. Also a healthy diet where 90% of my meals are not processed (manufactured) food.

  3. How can you really whine about 10000 steps. Its not that much. You dont have to be super sporty to take this each day. Wtf we lost ourselves. Just imagine how many steps our ancestors took each day…

  4. As a retired person with a healthy heart, my cardiologist told me that I just have to walk a half hour per day to keep it in shape. That roughly corresponds to the 150 minutes per week suggested in the video.

  5. I used to walk 17000 daily until recently to get to my previous place of work and It really feel like I'm missing something…. I guess running could be a replacement then?

  6. I walk between 10 and 20 kilometers every day simply doing daily chores and work around town. 10k is definitely not a huge amount of steps

  7. I'm really surprised @scishow didn't point out the reason they picked 10,000. In Japanrse, you write 10,000 as 一万, ichiman, and the 万 symbol for 10,000 looks like a little walking person if you put a little circle above it. This was related to marketing the pedometer.

  8. Accepted 10,000 steps is a round number myth, but this video sets the bar pretty low if it is going with the US guidelines. 15,000 steps a week or 2100 a day is absolutely nothing and even in the world's most car-centric culture that should only be a target for the elderly. Most people should have no problem doing 10 KM of walking a day – considerably more than 10,000 steps.

  9. My record is 84000ish steps in a day…. (Long distance hiker numbers are crazy). It was about 40 miles done on the Appalachian trail

  10. 10,000 steps on your Fitbit is a great way to shut your doctor up when they don't believe how much you're on your feet!

  11. 2100 steps a day?
    If that’s the case then it’s hard not to fulfill those guidelines of bare minimum of bare minimum of activity. Pretty much everyone does more steps per day on average and yet we have a decent portion of the population which is not particularly healthy.

  12. Why do people need to complicate things. Just walk until your tired and walk a little more after that, then gradually you will increase your stamina.

  13. I do between 12k to 21k when I work a day. 6 days a week. What I got from that is a tendinopathy. I prefer the days I do 450.

  14. I'm a cook in a big kitchen – so 10,000 steps a day is no problem when I'm at work. I've had days with over 15,000 steps when we are busy. Days off are another story.

  15. So I been doing 10,000 steps a day well in the beining when I was at my biggest I was happy with 1000 haha but now half of my body weight down and now I do 15 to 20 thousand steps a day to keep the weight off as I have a bad sweet tooth haha but ur saying I could be doing half just in higher speeds and it will work omg now I don't know what to believe x

  16. As someone who lives in a city and relies on walking and public transportation, 10,000 steps is legitimately a lot for the average person. I often get that in since i walk to work but 10,000 steps is almost 4 miles. I enjoy walking but it’s not like I do it for fun lol

  17. I stopped wearing my fitness tracker because I stopped caring. But I would average about 25,000 a day and some days as high as 35,000. But of course, working at Wally World does involve a lot of walking.

  18. 10,000 (万) in Japanese and Chinese can mean "many". Like kaleidoscope is "10,000 flowers tube" in Chinese.
    It's a mistranslation.

  19. I do over 10kv steps every day by just existing. 2100 steps as you said a day would fucki g destroy and depress me. Do americans walk arou d in swivel chairs instead of actually walking? 2k steps is just a 15 minute walk.

  20. I think I’d like to politely disagree. I’m an office worker who a year ago got a fit bit. My wife and I challenged each other to 10k steps a day, which given our sedentary lifestyle, was a lot. It transformed our lives. We now join 10k runs and we place in the top 100…well my wife does anyway. Basically, the 10k steps acted as a gateway drug for us into the fitness realm and provided us real and measurable goals we could track. I have dramatically improved my health and we have greatly improved our marriage thanks to this simple device and starting at that basic number.

  21. We did a global step challenge at work last year as part of the Virgin Group. I walk more than most on my team but struggle to ever reach 10k steps, I presume because I have a longer stride.

  22. It is a good way of just keeping your Neat up though to create a calorie deficit. As youd have a hard time trying to vigorously exercise away all of your calories, especially if you aren't that fit or have mobility issues.

  23. It isn't a magic number. It falls under the "give them an ambitious but achievable goal". It's not a lie. And, it incorporates the fault of oft-repeated 8 glasses of water rule that is supposed to count the uncountable water in food as well. It encourages people to make excuses to get up from their chair and stroll around every once in a while, and to take the stairs instead of the elevator in order to "get their steps in". It is holistic and not just about cardiovascular fitness.

  24. They say you need to practice anything for 10,000 hours to become an expert, and so my goal is to practice at least one step per hour. By the time I reach 10,000 steps, I should be an expert at it.

  25. It takes me 2 hours to walk 10,000 steps, walking quickly. I always wondered when people were supposed to walk those 10,000 steps.

  26. I've had jobs that required a lot of walking. At the end of the day I'd be between 20-30 thousand steps. I should live to be 200.

  27. Excercise at "moderate intensity" is walking at 4 km/h? That is walking pace, and a pretty slow one. By those standards, getting up one floor by stairs is probably "vigorous excercise" or worse. Maybe you should contact a doctor before you do it to see if your body can handle the stress. Make sure you wear your special stair climbing shoes to prevent injury.

  28. I thought about taking walks for good health.

    Then I realized that with my job filled with heavy lifting, tinkering, pushups, sit-ups, wrenching, high speed walking with a toolbox, loaded walking and climbing I get some 30 hours of full range exercise a week and actually need to sit down more. 😀

    Although I also thought about getting a 20 pound re-curve bow for target practice which is significantly more attractive idea to me.

  29. When i was still working at USPS, I always walk 13-15miles a day, 36k to 40k steps a day.
    Now that I'm a nurse, it's hard to get at least 10k steps.

  30. Bob Paine and the rest of his crew are changing everything mad props to them. U reading dis and haven't seen that pbs documentary he talks about at the end o dis vid chech it out.

  31. Ok, Scishow and people reading this comment, please understand I'm not trying to throw shade here. I don't typically like to comment in general, let alone on these things. That being said, here is a semi-long winded response. *Quick disclaimer, I don't claim to be a spokes person for any of these institutions or groups, however I do belong to the ACSM.* 10,000 steps. Do we need it? You answered the question partially. It's a lot harder than a yes or no answer. There is some statistical evidence that 10,000 steps a day will reduce the chances of a cardiovascular event {Kraus, W. E., & Janz, K. F. (2019). Daily Step Counts for Measuring Physical Activity Exposure and Its Relation to Health. Official Journal of the College of Sports Medicine, 1206–1212.} Not only that, but it's a relatively easy number to remember and can be effectively communicated to the masses as an easier way to meet the US Health Guidelines of weekly activity needed for adults { Le-Masurier, G. C., Sidman, C. L., & Corbin, C. B. (2003). Accumulating 10,000 Steps: Does this Meet Current Physical Activity Guidelines? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74, 389–394.} The problem you're trying to solve in this video is "does it actually work biologically?" but neglecting "does it actually work socially?". 10,000 steps through some of these studies shows that this number is significant enough to achieve the daily and weekly recommended exercise guidelines. This isn't supported by metadata, but I can tell you as someone who works in this field that it's a lot more effective to tell patients/clients to work 10,000 steps daily into life then it is to get them to engage in purposeful exercise. I'm not the only one who has seen this, however I will say this is anecdotal evidence as I can't find a study on purposeful exercise vs step counts and the adherence rate thereof. So what am I trying to say? The TL;DR of this comment is to help you realize that 10,000 steps isn't necessarily wrong when it comes to cardiac health, HOWEVER it is easier in my personal experience to effectively communicate and keep adherence to 10,000 steps daily as enough exercise than it is to get clients/patients to do purposeful exercise. It's a fallback answer. Yes, exercise is great and I encourage you to do it! But if you refuse, at least get 10,000 steps a day to meet close to daily health guidelines established in the second cited article. Thanks guys, sorry for the long comment. Wanted to throw my two cents in.

  32. Well, that PBS documentary link just says "We're sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to rights restrictions." Any idea if it will get a release outside the USA?

  33. Health scientists: Turns out the same people who are still unsure about eggs, cows milk and water consumption, might've got it wrong about wearing out your knees to appease the demands of a "fitbit" 🤔

  34. Tracked my steps once. It turned out that I walk about 25000 steps per day… Just in my 8hr shift. So that goal was easily forgotten anyways lol

  35. I don't listen to ANYTHING that begins with "Doctors say…."! They're pill pushers! They learn how to dispense pills, that's it! I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this walking lie was only to sell pedometers! Don't get me started!

  36. XD I regularly get around 15,000 steps five days out of the week, if not more, thanks to my job. And much of that is walking quickly to get from place to place.
    I don't know if 10,000 steps is needed, but I can't exactly see it being a bad thing either if it motivates people to get up and go for walks.

  37. My mother got a fitbit a few years ago and insisted I get one. She'd always brag about her 200-300 steps at work but mine said I walked 20,000-30,000 steps a day between work and college. I noticed she stopped bragging after that 🤔

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