The Walker © lynette sheppard

So many of us keep trying to reach that elusive 10,000 step number on our pedometers. And it can be stressful and demoralizing on the days that we can’t reach it, whether due to time constraints or fatigue or lack of motivation. I have suffered from all three of those.

Where did that magic number come from, that 10,000 step fitness goal? It may have originated back in 1965 with a Japanese pedometer brand name that translated roughly to 10,000 steps. Wait, what? That’s right.

So how many steps should we realistically aim for? How many steps will confer positive health benefits? And is more really better?

Thanks to a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we finally have some answers. Investigators there studied over 16,000 women for four years to determine the number of steps associated with decreased mortality. They released the results this month. And the news is very good for us menopause goddesses.

It turns out that as few as 4400 steps a day results in a 41% decrease in mortality as compared with taking only 2700 steps a day. (The average American takes between 4000 and 5000 steps per day ) As you walk more, mortality risk decreases further until you reach 7500 steps when it levels off.

I’ve reset my pedometer to 4400 steps for my morning walk. My phone app sprinkles green confetti when I reach my goal, and I have to admit, I love the positive reinforcement. Most days, I end up with around 8000 steps overall but I don’t stress on the days I only reach 4400. And I don’t necessarily cheer when I hit 10,000 steps. I just enjoy my walks and sprinkle in some yoga and weights. I feel stronger and more fit than I did pre-menopause.

So go ahead. Reset your app or your Apple Watch or your Fitbit to a goal that works for you – and enjoy your walk.