All You Really Need to Know About Walking and Health

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10,000 steps a day. It's the magic number that's said to optimize health and longevity. But did you know the 10,000 step goal is rooted more in marketing than in science? It started in 1965 in Tokyo, Japan, where a company released an early step counter, calling it manpo-kei, or 10,000 steps meter.

The marketing suggested this number of steps would reduce the risk of heart disease. Today we know health benefits kick in long before 10,000 steps. But just how many daily steps do you need? Walk with us, and find out.

2,500 steps, or about a mile, are enough to begin reducing your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. For every extra 500 steps, or one lap around a standard track, you lower that risk by another 7%.

Roughly 4,000 steps helps reduce the risk of early death from any cause. At 6,000 steps, you may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly if you're an older woman. 6,500 steps may lower your blood pressure.

Past 8,000 steps to lower your risk of obesity, sleep apnea, and depression. At 9,800 steps, you may reduce your risk of developing dementia by 50%. Now you've made it to 10,000 steps. But what happens if you keep going?

At 10,500 steps, your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease may be 77% lower than it was at 2,500. At 11,000 steps, you've lowered your risk of hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and sleep apnea by 25% to 50% more than at 6,000.

And at 11,500 steps, the risk of early death may be 67% lower than it was at 4,000. The average American takes 4,800 steps a day. We challenge you to do better because every step counts.