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10,000 steps per day: it’s not all or nothing

Posted by Nicholas Dang on
10,000 steps per day: it’s not all or nothing

For health benefits, the World Health Organization recommends that all adults should:

  • do at least 150–300 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150 min of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or some equivalent combination of both throughout the week
  • do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week.1

It’s probably not the first time you’ve seen these physical activity guidelines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people don’t meet these guidelines. For example, it’s been estimated that globally 1 in 4 (27.5%) adults don’t meet the recommendations for aerobic physical activity.2

One potential barrier to people being more active is the belief that unless you reach specific numbers, you won’t get any health benefits… But that’s not true!

Health benefits still occur with levels of physical activity below the recommendations.

A great example is the widely advocated goal of walking 10,000 steps per day. What’s interesting is that you don’t have to walk remotely close to 10,000 steps per day for it to be worth your while.


The health benefits from the first 5,000 steps are about double the next 5,000 steps. That is, there’s a twofold greater reduction in relative risk of all-cause death and cardiovascular disease going from 0 to 5,000 steps/d than going from 5,000 to 10,000 steps/d.3

So, if you’re only doing very little, then you’ve got so much to gain from doing a little more!

Remember some physical activity is better than none, and you can always start small and build up gradually over time!



  1. Bull et al. (2020) (PMID: 33239350)
  2. Guthold et al. (2018) (PMID: 30193830)
  3. Sheng et al. (2021) (PMID: 34547483)


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