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Q: Should I try to walk 10,000 steps per day?

Many people have heard the advice that you should walk 10,000 steps per day to be healthy, especially as you age. But it turns out that 10,000 might not be the magic number we think it is. A recent study from JAMA Internal Medicine investigated the claim and found that most people can improve their health even if they walk fewer steps.

The study involved more than 16,000 women over age 62. Researchers found that women who walked 4,400 steps per day had a 41% reduction in mortality over more sedentary women. Mortality rates improved the more people walked, but they leveled off at around 7,500 steps per day. The intensity of the steps didn't matter; people benefited as much from walking as from vigorous exercise.

This is important because some people get discouraged and give up if they cannot reach the goal of 10,000 steps.

The bottom line is every little bit helps. You can improve your health by taking simple steps (pun intended!) to be more active every day. For example, try parking your car at the far end of the lot instead of close to the entrance; take the stairs instead of the escalator; take multiple trips to bring in groceries instead of piling up the bags to bring them all in at once. You can make a real difference in your health by making small changes.