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Struggling to hit 10,000 steps? 4,000 is just as good according to new study

Scrambling to find the time or energy to hit 10,000 steps a day? Well according to new research, you might not have to.

When it comes to your target step count, the scientific and medical communities have always advocated for a pretty sizeable number

Now, the recommendations have changed significantly, with the latest findings suggesting the magic number is actually much closer to 4,000 steps.

The revised number translates into a much more manageable 30 to 45-minute walk or roughly three and a half kilometres. 

The latest findings came from analysing the data from 17 existing studies that looked into peoples’ typical weekly step counts over a period of time, and subsequently how their cardiovascular health fared for the following seven years.

This means the total pool of participants was not only enormous but incredibly diverse, giving the authors of the latest study a collection of health and movement data any scientist would be envious of. 

Every little bit counts

When it comes to exercise, the ‘all or nothing’ approach has no place in today’s established research.

With busy work schedules, family commitments and all kinds of health impairments, it’s widely recognised that striving to smash out a 10km walk each day is nothing short of impossible for most people.

With so many feeling discouraged by their inability to meet previous step count recommendations, the latest study aimed to level the laying field for all, proving the more realistic goals are perfectly adequate.

“Every little bit of exercise helps,” Dr I-Min Lee told The New York Times. The Harvard Medical School professor of medicine believes we shouldn’t be discounting the snippets of movement we accumulate throughout the day.   

This means that your mad dash for the morning bus and the quick trip around the block after your dog’s dinner time all contribute to your overall health, not just your scheduled workouts and tracked hikes.

But why stop there?

Dr Seth Shay Martin, one of the study’s authors, says that while the new number is far more attainable to the average Joe, you shouldn’t feel discouraged to exceed it. 

“I wouldn’t want people to look at that as a magical number, that you must be above that exact step count,” the cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine said. „It’s more so that more is better.”

In fact, the study concluded that for every additional 1,000 steps participants took daily, the average mortality risk decreased by 15 per cent.

The biggest takeaway that the new research offers is that an active lifestyle is easier to maintain than previously thought. Hitting a number is great, but carving out time each day to prioritise your health and fitness, is the real lifesaver. 

Even small changes to your daily routine could see your opportunity for movement increase, such as tapping off the bus a stop earlier or opting to take a phone meeting on the go.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but hitting 4,000 steps or more is what will keep those very days coming. 

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