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How many steps you need to do to offset sitting, according to scientists

Two women going for a walk steps
Scientists have found the optimum number of steps needed to offset being sedentary. (Getty Images)

For years it’s been drilled into us that walking 10,000 steps per day is the optimum number for good health – and a new study has provided further evidence to back this up.

Scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia have looked at the exact number of steps people need to do each day in order to offset their sitting time, or sedentary lifestyles.

The researchers looked at the 72,174 people currently contributing to the UK Biobank, a long-term data set that began in 2006 and will track people’s health measures for over 30 years.

Looking at nearly seven years worth of data, the Australian researchers determined that the average Brits is sedentary, or sits, for 10.6 hours per day.

The study found that the more steps people took, the less likely they were to die young and were more likely to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease – with 9,000 to 10,000 steps per day being the optimum number.

However, they started seeing benefits in people from as much as 4,000 to 4,500 steps per day.

"Any amount of daily steps above the referent 2,200 steps per day was associated with lower mortality and incident CVD risk, for low and high sedentary time," study author Matthew Ahmadi said.

"Accruing between 9,000 and 10,000 steps a day optimally lowered the risk of mortality and incident CVD among highly sedentary participants."

The more steps you do, the better the long-term health benefits. (Getty Images)
The more steps you do, the better the long-term health benefits. (Getty Images)

In total, those that walked between 9,000 and 10,000 steps per day lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by 21% and their risk of an early death by 39%.

“[This data] holds an important public health message that all movement matters and that people can and should try to offset the health consequences of unavoidable sedentary time by upping their daily step count,” Ahmadi added.

The new research comes after a study from last year of 226,889 participants found that people were less likely to die from all causes if they walked 3,967 steps per day.

A separate study from 2022 found that walking just 3,800 steps per day can slash someone’s risk of dementia by 25%.

So, if you do find yourself sedentary a lot of the time, be sure to make some time to up your step count where possible – your health will thank you for it.

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