Although walking 10,000 steps per day is a popular goal, a smaller number of steps—especially at a moderate or greater intensity—could still be beneficial, according to a recent study.

“Some physical activity is better than none, and typically more is better than less,” says John Schuna Jr, assistant professor of kinesiology in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, in a media release from Oregon State University.

“When it comes to steps, more is better than fewer, and steps at higher cadences for a significant amount of time are beneficial. A good target for healthy adults is 150 minutes per week spent at 100 or more steps per minute. And in terms of time spent sedentary, less is better — you want to spend as little time not moving as possible within reason.”

In their study, Schuna, as well as lead author Catrine Tudor-Locke from the University of Massachusetts and six other researchers, analyzed data from 3,388 participants age 20 and older in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

They studied the participants’ step counts, daily “peak 30-minute cadence,” and cardiometabolic risk factors.

Their findings were recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

In analyzing the participants’ step counts, they note that among the men, the top one-fifth had a median of more than 10,000 steps per day—12,334, to be exact. Among the women, the top one-fifth’s median was 9,824 steps per day.

Among all the participants, only the top one-fifth had a median peak cadence — 96 steps per minute — that was in line with accepted physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes a day at 100 steps per minute, per the release.

Nevertheless, the researchers note that their analysis showed a strong relationship between brisk walking and favorable cardiometabolic risk numbers.

The same held true for number of steps, whether above or below the 10,000-step threshold. And higher percentages of sedentary time were linked to less-favorable values in several risk factors, the release continues.

“Now there is an additional caveat regarding the manner in which physical activity is accumulated to meet current physical activity guidelines, which states that aerobic activity should be accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes in duration,” Schuna explains in the release.

“If we take this into consideration, it becomes more difficult to determine whether or not someone is meeting the physical activity guidelines using step counts alone. That aside, averaging 10,000 or more steps/day puts you in the top 15 percent of adults in terms of step-defined physical activity.”

[Source(s): Oregon State University, Science Daily]