The daily steps we need to compensate for hours of sitting

Scientists have determined the optimal number of daily steps to compensate for a sedentary lifestyle, and these don’t quite correspond to what your activity bracelet says

You’ve probably heard that adults should try to walk 10,000 steps a day. This single approach sends a clear message, but it doesn’t take into account how diverse people’s lifestyles and bodies are.

The figure of 10,000 steps per day does not come from scientific research, but from a marketing campaign in Japan in the 1960s. In the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a Japanese company developed a pedometer called “Manpo.” person walking looks like.

Now, an international team of researchers has found that even most of us can protect ourselves from the harmful effects of sitting by incorporating more steps into our daily routine. But how many steps? They are not far from the Japanese idea.

The problems of sitting

Sedentary lifestyles are becoming increasingly common and we know that they are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, an increased risk of cancer and diabetes, and a shorter life expectancy. And these risks are lower in people who take more steps and walk faster.

But until now it was unclear whether sedentary people could counteract the worrying health risks by taking daily steps.

The more steps people took in the new study, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease and even premature death, regardless of how sedentary they otherwise were. Therefore, those of us who work in an office are not entirely condemned, although researchers emphasize that it is still important to try to reduce sitting time in general.

“This is by no means a free pass for people who are sedentary for long periods of time,” says population health scientist Matthew Ahmadi of the University of Sydney, Australia.

“However, it carries an important public health message: that all exercise is important and that people can and should try to counteract the health consequences of an unavoidable sedentary lifestyle by increasing the number of steps they take each day.”

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Sitting in a chair for hours instead of walking

Ahmadi and his colleagues analyzed data from 72,174 volunteers who contributed to the UK Biobank, a large, long-term data set dating back to 2006 that will track participants’ health measures for at least 30 years.

Each participant included in the study had an average of 6.9 years of general health data. Participants wore accelerometers on their wrists for seven days to estimate their physical activity levels, such as the number of steps they typically took and the time they typically spent sitting.

The average sedentary time was 10.6 hours per day. Therefore, those who spent more time than this number were considered to have “high sedentary time,” while those who spent fewer hours were considered to have “low sedentary time.”

Participants whose statistics may have been affected by poor health in the first two years were not included in this study, so the results only apply to people who enjoyed generally good health in at least the first two years of data. It is unclear whether the data included participants with disabilities that affected step counting.

The team found that between 9,000 and 10,000 steps per day is optimal for counteracting a very sedentary lifestyle, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21% and mortality by 39%.

Regardless of the participant’s sedentary time, researchers found that 50 percent of the benefits occurred between 4,000 and 4,500 steps per day.

“Any daily step count above the baseline of 2,200 steps per day was associated with lower mortality and cardiovascular disease risk for both low and high levels of sedentary time,” conclude Ahmadi and colleagues.

“Accumulating between 9,000 and 10,000 steps per day optimally reduced the risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease in sedentary participants.”


Do the associations between daily steps and mortality and the occurrence of cardiovascular disease differ depending on the duration of sitting? A device-based cohort study

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