Good news is painfully thin on the ground these days, so it is important to grab any with both hands. For those who fret about not doing their 10,000 steps a day – a week is my goal – a study conducted by I-Min Lee from Harvard Medical School shows that it is not the magic number.
16,000 women aged over 70 were fitted with a device which measured movement during their waking hours for a week. When the researchers followed up on the women four and a bit years later, 504 had died, but the average number of steps that survivors were taking was only 5,500. It seems that those who took 4,000 steps a day had a much higher survival rate than those who pottered their way to 2,700. Survival rates increased the more steps were taken but plateaued after 7,500 with no appreciable benefit, other than a smug feeling of satisfaction, after that.
It seems that the myth of 10,000 steps a day is the result of a successful marketing campaign, launched just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by a company flogging a pedometer called Manpo-kei. Man means ten thousand in Japanese, po steps, and kei meter, with no obvious scientific basis behind it. If only they had called it Rokusenpo-kei (6,000 step meter), just think how much better and happier we would be.
It just goes to show that it does not always pay to go the extra mile.