Study reveals ideal daily step count for longer life: 8,000 steps

Daily step counts linked to mortality and heart health.


An international study by the University of Granada (UGR) reveals that taking 8,000 steps daily can significantly reduce the risk of premature death. This equals walking about 6.4 kilometers daily, considering the average human stride length. The research also highlights that walking briskly is more beneficial than strolling. When it comes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, most of the benefits are noticeable at around 7,000 steps.

This study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, is the first to determine the ideal number of steps for maximum benefits and highlights that walking speed adds extra advantages. The research involved collaboration between teams from the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States, including Radboud University Medical Center, the University of Granada, the University of Castilla-La Mancha, and Iowa State University.

The lead author of the study, Francisco B. Ortega, a professor at the UGR’s Department of Physical Education and Sports, explains, “Traditionally, many people thought that you had to reach about 10,000 steps a day to obtain health benefits – an idea that came out of Japan in the 1960s, but had no basis in science.”

This study challenges the ‘10,000 steps’ idea and reveals that more efforts are generally better for health. Based on a review of twelve international studies involving over 110,000 people, the research suggests that aiming for 7,000-9,000 steps a day is a sensible health goal for most individuals.

It’s shown that even small increases in daily steps can bring health benefits, particularly for people with low physical activity levels. Setting achievable goals and gradually increasing step counts can lead to improved health. The study found that people of both the genders benefit, and walking faster is linked to reduced mortality risk, regardless of the total steps taken.

The researchers emphasize that it doesn’t matter how you count your steps, whether through a smartwatch, activity tracker, or smartphone; the step targets remain the same.

Should we stop walking at around 9,000 steps? No, says Francisco B. Ortega. More efforts are always reasonable. The study found that even going up to 16,000 steps a day is not risky; there are added benefits compared to 7,000-9,000 degrees. However, the differences in reducing the risk are minor. The ideal step target should also consider age, with younger people having higher marks.

The study focused on the risk of mortality and heart disease. But a wealth of scientific evidence shows that moderate to vigorous physical activity offers many health benefits, including better sleep and mental health.

Counting steps offers clear and easily measurable goals, essential for people who might need clarification on what qualifies as moderate-intensity exercise. Many people have smartphones or smartwatches, making step counting a convenient way to track physical activity and improve their health.

This research contributes to establishing simple and quantifiable goals for daily step counts, which can be easily tracked using smartphones, smartwatches, or wristbands. It aims to empower individuals with an accessible and practical means of improving their health and well-being.

Journal reference:

  1. Niels A. Stens MSc, Esmée A. Bakker PhD et al., Relationship of Daily Step Counts to All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Events. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2023.07.029.