What is the optimal number of daily steps for longevity for TRTA members? For most of us it is not 10,000!

According to a recent meta-analysis, the risk for premature death levelled off at about 6,000-
8,000 steps per day for adults 60 and older. Neither more steps nor increased walking speed (step
cadence) resulted in a lower risk of death.
Human beings walk (ambulate or move about). Throughout our evolution, we have developed
the capacity to walk long distances and build up our metabolisms, cardiovascular fitness,
muscular strength and bone structure. As children we walked all over the place. As young adults
we often did plenty of walking, especially if our first jobs demanded it. In middle adulthood,
many of us in education walked about the campus, but had to augment that with working out or
recreational walking. As TRTA retirees, we find ourselves needing to walk for our health’s sake.
Researchers became interested in using steps to quantify ambulatory physical activity in the mid1900s. Beginning in 1995, this research gained momentum with the introduction of reasonably
accurate spring-levered pedometers with digital displays. Longitudinal studies using
accelerometers are being conducted today to measure the motion and vibration of human
walking. A meta-analysis of 15 studies (sample size of 47,471 adults) was funded by the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2022.
The first pedometers for widespread personal use were produced in Japan following the 1964
Olympics. The number 10,000 was adopted as a marketing ploy with no scientific backing.
These first measuring devices were worn at the waist.
Interest by the general population in tracking physical activity exploded in 2010. The number of
accelerator-based activity trackers by private citizens soared. In 2015, Fit Bit sold more than 21
million wrist worn activity tracking devices. Recently, smartwatches have included acceleratorbased measuring components.
The cadence of the steps was not a factor in terms of longevity. Cadence is a consideration for
those who follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation of 150
minutes of moderate activity per week. Although thirty minutes of walking at a cadence of 100
steps a minute five times a week meets this recommendation, some adults would gain the same
benefit from fifteen ten-minute walking segments over the seven days. The key is walking 100
steps each minute of the segment at a speed of 2.8 MPH.
Increasing one’s physical activity level from 2,700 steps a day to 4,400 steps a day can have a
positive impact on an older adult’s health. Increasing the daily steps to 7,000-7,500 can improve
one’s longevity and quality of life.
Online References
Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts. Amanda E.
Paluch, Shivangi Bajpai, David R. Bassett, Mercedes R. Carnethon, Ulf Ekelund, Kelly R.
Evenson, Deborah A. Galuska, Barbara J. Jefferis, William E. Kraus, I-Min Lee, Charles E.
Matthews, John D. Omura, Alpha D. Patel, Carl F. Pieper, Erika Rees-Punia, Dhayana
Dallmeier, Jochen Klenk, Peter H. Whincup, Erin E. Dooley, Kelley Petey Gabriel, Priya Palta,
Lisa A. Pompei, Ariel Chernofsky, Martin G. Larson, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Nicole Spartano,
Marcel Ballin, Peter Nordstrom, Sigmund A. Anderssen, Bjorge H. Hansen, Jennifer A. Cochran,
Terence Dwyer, Jing Wang, Luigi Ferrucci, Fangyu Liu, Jennifer Shrack, Jacek Urbanek, Pedro
F. Sainte-Maurice, Naofumi Yamamoto, Yutaka Yashitake, Robert L. Newton Jr., Shengping
Yang, Eric J. Shiroma, Janet E. Fulton, on behalf of the Steps for health Collaborative.
Copyright: 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access Article under
the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License. www.thelancet.com/public-health Vol 7 March 2022.
Step Counting: A Review of Measurement Considerations and Health-Related Applications.
David R. Bassett, Lindsay P. Toth, Samuel R. LaMunion and Scott E. Crouter. Sports Med.
2017; 47(7): 1303-1315. Published online 2016 Dec 22 doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0663-
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5488109/
Number of steps per day more important than step intensity. National Institute of Health (NIH).
March 31, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/number-steps-day-moreimportant-step-intensity
How many steps for better health? National Institute of Health (NIH). June 11,
2019. https://nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-many-steps-better-health
Is 10,000 steps really a magic number for health? Michael Precker, American Heart Association
News. November 16, 2021.
Is 10,000 steps best for my heart? Heart Foundation. September 9,
2019. Https://www.Heartfoundation.org.nz/about-us/news/blogs/is-10000-steps-best-for-myheart
Exercise and Physical Activity. National Institute on
Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity
How much physical activity do older adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Pedometer Accuracy in slow walking older adults. Int. J. Thar Rehabil. July 3, 2012. Canadian
Institute of Health Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4008448/
Scientists Identify the Optimal Number of Daily Steps for Longevity and It’s Not 10,000. The
Lancet Public Health Science Alert.

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