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How Many Steps Should We Be Taking Every Day?

We’re so used to hearing that we need 10,000 steps a day for health, but where did that number even come from, and do we really need to take that many steps? 

You’ll probably be surprised to learn that there was no actual research behind the 10,000 steps recommendation – it was actually a 1965 Japanese marketing campaign for a pedometer. 

The Japanese character for 10,000 looks like a person running, which is how the company came up with the slogan ‘manpo-kei,’ meaning ’10,000 step meter.’ For some reason, what seems like the entire world picked up on that slogan and turned it into what seemed to be a universal recommendation. 

That being said, most of us most of us don’t even hit 5000 steps a day. We’re getting more sedentary as technology does more things for us in our daily lives, and this can be detrimental to health. 

The 10,000 steps a day goal – around 5 miles – can be overwhelming for some people, in particular those who have trouble walking or who are just starting their fitness journey. 

What many people don’t know is that we don’t have to exercise intentionally in order to get those steps in.

Optimizing our NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis, is an important part of weight maintenance and overall wellness. Step count can be a part of that, even when we aren’t exercising intentionally. 

We tend to concentrate only on activity through intentional exercise, which seems like the only activity that ‘counts.’ That’s not true though! Intentional exercise accounts for only a small part of our daily energy usage – around 5% – while NEAT can use upwards of 15%.

We take steps when we clean, walk to the sink to wash our hands, and pace while we’re on the phone. All of that adds up. These ‘incidental steps,’ as some scientists call them, can make a huge difference in our health.

NEAT might be the secret health weapon you aren’t using. 

After three years, I took my Apple Watch off.  Here’s why.

There have been several recent step count studies: 

A 2022 study published in JAMA found that ‘incidental…

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