We’ve heard it before – sitting down all day is as harmful as smoking and the best way to alleviate the effects is to hit 10,000 steps a day.

But to be honest, chasing that number can cause a lot of stress. With the popularity of fitness trackers, we’ve become more competitive with each other as we try to beat their number of steps, and when we don’t, we don’t feel good enough.

Well, according to new research from Oregon State University, 3,000 steps a day is perfectly adequate – just as long as they’re at a higher intensity.

The study’s lead author, John Schuna Jr, said: “A good target for healthy adults is 150 minutes per week spent at 100 or more steps per minute. And in terms of time spent sedentary, less is better – you want to spend as little time not moving as possible within reason.”

Doing this amount of steps at high speed can lower the risk of cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and your heart rate, and relieve anxiety.

Researchers looked at data from a national health survey that analysed the step counts of 3,300 Americans. Each participant wore a pedometer with an accelerometer, and most were found to be walking between 5,000 and 7,000 steps a day.

The results found that the people who only made a few thousand steps – but did so by walking fast – were more likely to be thinner and have lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

So we guess that means quality really does beat quantity. If you have a desk job and sit down for 10 hours a day, make sure you offset the sedentary habits by getting in some moderate to vigorous activity!