Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is 10,000 steps a day a good target for an older person?

Q. My daughter gave me a pedometer and told me to walk 10,000 steps a day. When I wore it for a while, I realized I was taking only about 3,000 steps a day. Is 10,000 a realistic number for someone my age (70 years)?

A. If you are reasonably healthy, 10,000 steps a day is a good goal for you. It is the equivalent of walking two to three miles per day. You can cover this distance with a walk of 45 minutes or so, and get in your 10,000 steps even if you do nothing else for the rest of the day. Ten thousand steps a day may not be feasible if you have arthritis, heart failure, or other health issues.

No one is saying you must hit this target every single day. But if you have a day or two in a row with much lower numbers, consider pushing yourself harder during the next few days.

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