How many daily steps are healthy?

“It just depends on where you’re starting from,” says sports medicine specialist Dr. Cindy Lin.

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Smart watches and other wearable tech have made counting steps a popular hobby. The trend has launched a debate about how many daily steps are necessary to benefit one’s health. In contrast with some fitness buffs, Dr. Cindy Lin says that number of steps does not have to be 10,000.

“What we’ve found out through more recent research studies is that, as long as you're getting over about 7,000 steps a day, that has been associated with a lower risk of early death,” said Lin, a sports medicine specialist and clinical associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The bottom line for setting movement goals: The more, the better.

“The general recommendation is to try to move more and sit less,“ she said. “It just depends on where you're starting from. So, if you're only walking 3,000 steps a day, even getting to 4,000 or 5,000 is going to be a good thing for your heart health and for how you're feeling.”

Upping your fitness goal is easier if the activity is one you enjoy, whether it’s walking, swimming, hiking or something else, she added. “Make it a routine or a habit,” she said, “so you feel like something is missing in your day or in your week when you don't do it.”

Download broadcast-ready soundbites featuring Lin discussing goal setting for daily movement.

Related research: Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts

Editor’s note: This content was derived from previously published video soundbites in October 2021.  

UW Medicine