If you wear a fitness tracking device chances are you spend each day counting down the steps till you reach that victorious 10,000 steps mark, but do really need to take that many steps each day to be healthy? New research says maybe not.

When you’re chasing a toddler around all day you might not even need a lot of extra motivation to get all your steps in each day, but when it’s almost bedtime and you see those steps clocking in below 10,000 it can make you feel a little defeated. A new study finds that you might not gain any extra benefits from hitting that goal, however.

photo: Rawpixel

The study published in in JAMA Internal Medicine found that getting only about half that many steps per day are linked to a decreased risk of early death for older women. It also found that the benefits start to plateau over 7,500 steps per day.

While this study was focused on women ages 62 to 101, other recent research has pointed to the fact that any exercise provides health benefits for people of all ages and is better than none at all. One study found that just replacing 30 minutes of sitting with any kind of movement lowered risk of early death by 17 percent.

“Just do a little bit. If you just do a little bit, you’re better off,” says study co-author I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet 10,000 steps.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin



The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy & What New Research Has to Say

How Much Exercise Should Your Kids Get? Doctors Offer New Guidelines

New Exercise Guidelines for Pregnant Women You’ll Want to Pay Attention To