Experts say 15000 steps per day - equivalent to a12km hike - are required to gain the maximum health boost and only if the pace is kept brisk. The figure is based on studies looking at the health of hunter-gatherers in the Tanzanian savannah and Glaswegian postmen. These found that the benefits of exercise rise the more we do and only plateau at a remarkably high level.
Evolutionary anthropologist Professor Herman Potzner, of Duke University in the US state of North Carolina, outlined the new findings in New Scientist magazine.
He said: “The 10000-step target pursued by fitness-tracker enthusiasts (was) a marketing ploy dreamed up by a Japanese manufacturer of pedometers in 1965.”
While this target was “a good start, we should strive for more”, he said.
His research into a hunter-gatherer group called the Hadza in Tanzania suggests the optimal dose of daily exercise is about two hours a day or 15000 steps. People need to be walking hard enough to get the heart pumping faster than normal.
The Hadza’s high activity levels meant they had the “healthiest hearts on the planet... and stay strong and spry into old age,” Potzner added.
Separately, a study of postal workers in Glasgow found those who took more than 15000 steps “had cardio-metabolic health on a par with hunter-gatherers” despite living in a city known for its poor health.
Adults “should do at least 150minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week”, equating to just over 20 minutes a day, or around 2500 steps. And for those sick of walking, there’s good news as having a sauna counts as exercise too, with the intense temperature driving up heart rate and blood pressure. Although saunas are thought of as places of relaxation, a team from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Medical Centre Berlin found taking a sauna had a similar physiological effect as going for a bike ride.Daily Mail