Staying active and exercising are important for your wellbeing. People who aim to get more exercise by tracking their fitness with digital devices usually aim to reach a goal of around 10,000 steps — or about 5 miles — per day. A new study from Oregon State University found that health benefits can also be achieved through a smaller number of daily steps, especially at moderate or greater intensity.

Results of this study show that even taking only 5,000 steps a day can be beneficial to overall health, but walking at a brisk pace for at least 3,000 steps helps. Also, limiting overall sedentary time will make up for those missed steps, according to a press release from Oregon State University.

Researchers examined data from 3,388 participants age 20 and older in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The team looked at the relationship between a patient’s physical activity and various cardiometabolic risk factors — like body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels.

“Some physical activity is better than none, and typically more is better than less,” researcher John Schuna Jr. told OSU.

“When it comes to steps, more is better than fewer, and steps at higher cadences for a significant amount of time are beneficial,” Schuna explained. “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.”

The average American takes between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day, according to the study.

Source: Tudor-Locke C, Schuna JM, Han H, Aguiar EJ, Green MA, Busa MA, et al. Step-Based Physical Activity Metrics And Cardiometabolic Risk. Medicine & Science In Sports & Medicine. 2016.

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