The average American adult walks just 5,900 steps daily.

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We’ve all been told to strive for 10,000 steps each day. But why? Is it because 10,000 is some kind of magic number? And how exactly does that much walking improve your health?

Those are the questions UC Davis Integrative Medicine recently set out to answer. According to the university, the whole “10,000 steps” thing was first popularized by Japanese walking enthusiasts in the 1960s. That’s when “manpo-kei” (Japanese pedometers) first caught fire. The name "manpo-kei," reportedly translates to "10,000 steps meter" in English.

Ten thousand steps remains a popular goal today because research has shown that it’s associated with health benefits like lower blood pressure, enhanced mood, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

One particular study reported a reduction in blood pressure for patients who walked at least 10,000 steps daily, while another found that glucose tolerance was improved in overweight women who walked 10,000 steps each day for eight weeks.

The average American adult walks just 5,900 steps daily.

"If you look at it, if everyone did just 10,000 steps a day in America we would probably decrease health care budget by $500 billion a year,” Michael Roizen, a physician and chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today. “That shows how few people actually do it, and two, how big a reduction in chronic disease we’d have if more did.”

With that being said, the Centers for Disease and Control don’t specifically recommend 10,000 steps a day. What they do suggest, is that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, or 30 minutes a day. Manageable, right?

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According to Neil Johannsen, assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University, research shows that adults aiming for the 150 minutes a week typically walk around 7,500 steps a day.

In the end, the experts agree: whether you take 7,500 steps or 10,000 steps each day, getting up and moving is the key to good health.

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