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Should we really take 10,000 steps a day?

For many years, we have known that taking about 10,000 steps a day keeps you in shape. And yet, this assertion does not come from the scientific world but from that of marketing. In other words, this threshold was set in a totally arbitrary way.

A marketing reference

Pr François Carré, cardiologist and sports doctor at Pontchaillou Hospital in Rennes, was interviewed on the subject in an article by L’Équipe dated March 26, 2021. The person believes that the number of 10,000 steps per day was first made famous by the world of marketing. And this even if reaching this level daily is obviously recommended to stay in good health. But on average, a French person would "only" take between 2,000 and 4,000 steps per day .

In an article published on July 6, 2021, the New York Times recalled the little story behind the 10,000 steps. After the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, a Japanese watch manufacturer tried to capitalize on this event. This company had the idea of ​​manufacturing and marketing a pedometer whose name in Japanese sounds like a walking individual. Above all, the word in question means "10,000 paces". The famous 10,000 steps have therefore become a reference and this has been going on for more than half a century.

Should we really take 10,000 steps a day?

It is not essential to do the same

I-Min Lee is a professor of epidemiology at Harvard (USA). She conducted a study suggesting a 40% reduction in the risk of premature death in women in their 70s taking at least 4,400 steps each day. At more than 5,000 steps, the risk decreases further. On the other hand, these same works showed that, for women, it was not really useful to exceed the bar of 7,500 daily steps. For the leader of the study, a goal of 7,000 to 8,000 steps therefore seems largely sufficient.

Pr François Carré reminds us that the main thing is to walk and that, for many of us, the goal of 10,000 steps may be too raised. Thus, this same objective can become a potential source of discouragement . It is best to start small and move up. François Carré also praises the merits of the pedometer and similar mobile applications. This allows you to know your performance exactly, to adjust them or even to challenge yourself. The professor also cited the example of one of his patients who set herself a challenge:

A lady, who was overweight at the base, came to see me to explain that she had sent a card to her colleagues, on which she had drawn the journeys she could have made virtually with all the steps she had taken in sixteen months! They were everywhere:from Paris-Marseille [about 775 km between the two cities, editor's note], Marseille-Paris… She started from almost nothing, and every day she walked and walked more and more. And the weekend even more since she had more time. She had combined this activity with a balanced diet, which resulted in significant weight loss. And there are plenty of examples like this! »