If you’re trying to lose weight, or get more active – a lot of articles say 10,000 steps (around 5 miles) should be your goal.

But should it, really? Our VERIFY fact checkers looked into it.

We went to the Cooper Clinic to talk to Dr. Riva Rahl and checked out research from Dr. Rosane Oliveira, the Director of Integrative Medicine at UC Davis.

First things first, the 10,000 goal doesn’t come from a scientific study, no matter what you’ve heard. It’s all thanks to a guy in Japan who created pedometers with the name ‘manpo-kei,’which means ‘10,000 step meters.’ Other companies and programs liked the sound of it and here we are.

So, should we be working toward that as our goal? Both doctors say simply getting up and moving more is the most important thing.

"The benefits of physical activity are numerous,” Dr. Riva Rahl noted. “Here at the Cooper Clinic, we recommend physical activity as a way of preventing disease, maintaining health, preventing heart disease and cancer.”

Dr. Oliveira says your goals should depend on your health. If you’re sedentary right now, work toward 5,000 steps or if you’re very active, 15,000 could be a better goal.

But everyone should get at least 3,000 steps. If you don’t know where to start, Dr. Rahl has some advice.

“Start slow and gradually work up there, and if you’re doing 2,000 steps a day and you increase it to 4,000 well, then, you’re getting some sort of benefit, even if you’re not necessarily achieving the mark. But you can gradually work toward that and improve your health along the way."

So, no, you don’t have to walk 10,000 steps a day.

But you should add to what you already do, or try to get close to the CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise each week.

Dr. Riva Rahl, Preventive Medicine Physician at Cooper Clinic
Dr. Rosane Oliveira, Director of Integrative Medicine at UC Davis


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