Walking can be used as a form of preventive medicine. Do not underestimate the power of accumulated steps throughout your day.

 We’ve heard that it’s good for us, but can taking 8,000 steps a day actually make a dent in the whole ‘premature death’ thing? 

The Lay of the Land

A meta-analysis from 2019, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, discusses a study in which a whopping 50,000 participants were involved.

The punchline? Those who got off their couches and moved around more had a significantly lower risk of kicking the bucket prematurely (Kyrgiou et al., 2019). 

Setting the Bar at 8,000 Steps

Now, about this magic number – 8,000 steps a day. According to a study by Tudor-Locke and Bassett (2004), hitting this mark could be the sweet spot for maintaining decent health.

And guess what? Other studies have jumped on this bandwagon, saying that 8,000 steps can do wonders for your heart, help you shed a few pounds and even give your brain a high-five (Matthews et al., 2007; Hatano, 1993).

Surviving the Daily Grind

But does this daily stroll really make a dent in the whole ‘living longer’ game?

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine from 2018 says yes.

They crunched the numbers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that people hitting 8,000 steps a day were rocking a 46% lower risk of biting the dust too soon (Saint-Maurice et al., 2018). 

Now, not everyone might hit the 8,000 mark, and that’s okay.

A study following a group of older women found that even clocking in at 4,400 steps a day was better than being a total couch potato (Lee et al., 2015).

Why It Works

Now, you might be wondering why putting one foot in front of the other can actually extend your stay on this planet.

Turns out, walking does some pretty cool things inside your body.

It gets the blood flowing, kicks inflammation to the curb and helps keeps your blood pressure in check (Myers et al., 2015).

Plus, it helps you with weight management, lowering the risk of things that can cut your life short (Matthews et al., 2007).

And let’s not forget the mental perks. Walking is like a daily dose of happy pills – it slashes stress, reduces anxiety and waves goodbye to depression (Craft and Perna, 2004; Schuch et al., 2018).

So, it’s not just about living longer; it’s about living better.


In a nutshell, the science says that walking 8,000 steps a day isn’t just a fitness fad – it’s a legit way to stick around a bit longer.

Whether you’re hitting that goal or just taking more steps than yesterday, every little bit counts.

Note: Using a pedometer will help you track step volume, but make sure that the device actually works. Cheap pedometers are more likely to malfunction or give inaccurate readings.

If keeping track isn’t for you, then at least make an effort to be on your feet as much as possible, such as pacing while using your phone or during TV commercials, and investing in a treadmill desk for computer work.

If you have a dog, walk it for longer and/or more frequently. A lot of walking is good for dogs too!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness, where she was also a group fitness instructor, she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.


­Top image: ©Lorra Garrick