Yes, 10,000 Steps a Day *Does* Matter—but Not in the Way You Think

Photo: Getty Images/Ridofranz
Every morning, I grab my sneakers, put on a pair of bike shorts and an oversized sweatshirt, and head out on a walk. It's something my mom has done for years, and I never understood the hype until recently. After even a quick mile on the trail, my mood is boosted, my stress is gone, I feel more energized, and I'm that much closer to hitting my daily 10,000 steps. And while that standard count does matter, there are other aspects to focus on, too.

Having a goal of reaching a minimum of 10,000 steps a day will do your body good, but there are two factors to focus on other than distance: time and speed. In a 2017 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers analyzed data from nearly 3,400 participants, finding that those who had a faster stepping rate reaped similar health benefits as the people who walked the most steps every day, including a lower BMI and lower waist circumference.

Sure, steps are important. However, if you consider how fast you're walking instead of how far you're walking, you'll be doing yourself a favor—even if you're just power-walking for 20 minutes over your lunch break. If you're not sure where to start, John Schuna Jr., PhD, one of the study authors, told Consumer Reports he recommends going for a minimum of 100 steps per minute, which equates to 2.5 to 3 miles per hour. Or if you really want to give mall-walkers a run for their money, walk as quickly as you can, aiming for 135 steps per minute (which is about a 4 mph pace).

I'm still going to get excited whenever I hit 10,000 steps in a day. But now, you better believe I'll be making them speedy steps while I'm at it.

If you're looking for trainer-guided ways to hit your step goals, try these walking workouts. And don't forget about getting your steps in the rest of the day, too, with these boots that were made for speedy walks.

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