Walking 9,000 Steps Per Day Keeps You Fit; Reduces Numerous Health Risks in Adults

A man walks across a zebra crossing outside Tokyo Station

Walking 9,000 steps every day should be the goal for those who want to extend their healthy life expectancy, according to a recently published study.

Conducted by a team that includes researchers from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, the study is based on analyses of data from two government surveys conducted in 2019 and has been published in an international medical journal. Health life expectancy is the time people are fit enough to live independently, without nursing care or other support.

Led by Masahiro Nishi, a specialist at the Kyoto university in cardiovascular internal medicine, the team analyzed data on about 5,000 adult men and women.

The data was extracted from two surveys: the Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions and the National Health and Nutrition Survey. The Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions asked research subjects whether they had ailments or injuries, including mental problems, back pain and bone fractures, and compiled the effect on the subjects’ lives, while the National Health and Nutrition Survey asked subjects how many steps they walked every day.

The team examined the relationship between healthy life expectancy and the daily number of steps.

It found that more steps brought greater benefits until the daily number exceeded 9,000, at which point the effect was more or less the same. There was no difference in the results between different age groups or between men and women, according to the team.

Guidelines published by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in January recommended that adults walk at least 8,000 steps per day based on the results of a survey on the relationship between the daily number of steps and various health factors, including the risk of death.

The research team for the recent study proposed that its results be the new target number.

“If you manage to walk 9,000 steps, you can use the rest of your time in the day to do other things and more efficiently lead a healthy life,” Nishi said.

“It’s a meaningful study,” said Rei Ono, the head of the department of physical activity research at the National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition. “I hope people will use this target number as a guide when they work out.”