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Why 10,000 steps isn’t enough to boost your metabolism


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Photo: Stocksy/Victor Torres

Nothing can replace the endorphin high of sweating it out in your favorite fitness class, but seeing the mileage tick up on your wearable is pretty addicting. (Let’s face it: Almost everyone has paced around the room a few times just to round up that number.)

But how many steps should you be aiming for exactly? Until now, the doctor-recommended advice has been 10,000, AKA five miles. But a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity finds that 10,000 steps is a bit too low. Researchers found that it’s actually 15,000 steps a day (seven miles) that is linked to keeping metabolism balanced and warding off long-term health problems.

“It takes effort, but we can accumulate 15,000 steps a day by walking briskly for two hours at about a 4 mph pace.”

The study compared the health stats of people who worked in an office versus mail carriers—a job where you essentially walk all day. Sitting all day was linked to a higher BMI and cholesterol, and a slower metabolism.

Okay, truth: This was a pretty limited study (with 55 office workers and 56 mail carriers) that compared two groups of people with vastly different jobs. But still, the results were clear. Racking up seven miles a day has major health benefits.

“It takes effort, but we can accumulate 15,000 steps a day by walking briskly for two hours at about a 4 mph pace,” William Tigbe, MD, a physician and public health researcher at the University of Warwick who led the study, tells the New York Times. “Our metabolism is not well-suited to sitting down all the time.”

That’s why you might, for instance, take a quick walk during your lunch break—or even get up from your desk every hour, on the hour. So now, you can get all scientific with your anti-sedentary campaign, with a new mileage number to set on your tracker.

Speaking of metabolism, here’s how to make sure your workout isn’t sabotaging it. Plus: three ways to speed it up