Ten thousand steps. It's easy to remember, and a goal lauded by several wearable fitness trackers, but is it actually a good daily target for fitness? The number is too simplistic and not for everyone, reports the Huffington Post. For instance, for the extremely sedentary, taking 10,000 steps—which works out to roughly five miles—every day is so lofty a goal it might actually work as a deterrent. And for people who are already active and, say, jogging a few times a week, 10,000 steps could amount to slowing down. Meanwhile, the number is probably too low for kids in general, one exercise researcher says. In a 2014 article, LiveScience pointed out the CDC doesn't actually specify a step count, but recommends 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week; that translates into roughly 7,000 to 8,000 steps.
So where does the number come from? It appears to have originated in Japan in the lead-up to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, with one company developing a pedometer called a man-po-kei, where "man" means 10,000, "po" means step, and "kei" means gauge. "It was a business slogan, like 'Just Do It' for Nike, but it resonated with people," Professor Catrine Tudor-Locke tells the BBC. And while there's certainly no downside to shooting for the 10,000-mark, it won't necessarily make you thin. US News & World Report last year flagged a 2008 meta-analysis of nine studies in which overweight or obese participants upped their steps by an average of 4,000 each day. After logging those extra miles for an average of four months, participants lost an average 3.13 pounds, "an amount that was just barely deemed statistically significant," US News observed. (There is such a thing, though, as running too much.)