Oct. 5, 2022 -- It became conventional wisdom in many fitness circles a few years ago that we should all try to take 10,000 steps a day.

With daily fitness trackers keeping count, many people tried to hit that number – and some occasionally wondered if 10,000 was, in fact, some kind of important number.

Turns out: Yes, it is, according to new research.

A study in JAMA Neurology found that walking about 10,000 steps a day was linked to less cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke and heart failure), 13 types of cancer, and dementia.

Taking 10,000 steps is about the same as walking four or five miles, depending on your stride.

Still, the new research says you don’t have to take that many to get health benefits. For example, 9,800 steps lowers the risk of dementia by 50 percent, the research suggests, but taking just 3,800 a day lowers it by 25 percent.

A companion study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that for every 2,000 steps a day, you could lower your risk of premature death by 8% to 11%. 

“Both studies involved about 78,500 participants, all middle age and older, who wore a device on their wrist to measure physical activity and whose health was monitored for a median of seven years,” The Washington Post reported.

A higher intensity of walking increased the health benefits, too, the studies found. “Walking at a faster pace was linked to a lower risk for dementia, heart disease, cancer and early death, beyond the benefit accrued for the number of daily steps,” The Post wrote.

“The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster,” said co-lead author Matthew Ahmadi, research fellow at the University of Sydney.

Show Sources

The Washington Post: “Every 2,000 steps a day could help keep premature death at bay”


JAMA Internal Medicine: “Prospective Associations of Daily Step Counts and Intensity With Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality and All-Cause Mortality”


JAMA Neurology: “Association of Daily Step Count and Intensity With Incident Dementia in 78,430 Adults Living in the UK”


University of Sydney: “Pace as important as 10,000 steps for health, finds new research”

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