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The 10,000 Step Goal

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day for good health? Sameer Bharde looks into whether this is just a marketing gimmick or the path to good health

Even if you don’t wear a fitness tracker around your wrist, chances are that you have heard or been coaxed at least a few times to walk 10,000 steps a day. But, where did this magic number come from? Why 10,000? And how does walking 10,000 steps affect your body?

In the 1960s, Japanese pedometers popularised the concept of 10,000 steps by calling these devices “manpo-kei”, which translates to the 10,000-step metre. However, recent fitness trackers have an arbitrary goal of 10,000 steps built into the software that serves to encourage you to stay on the move throughout the day. But, experts have said that it’s not the number of steps that matter; any amount of activity that is more than what you are doing currently will benefit your health.

On the flip side, studies have shown that hitting 10,000 steps a day does have its share of benefits. For instance, one study found a link between walking that many steps a day for six months and reduced blood pressure. Another study found improved glucose levels in overweight women who walked 10,000 steps each day. However, 10,000 steps a day is still not an official measurement.

RECOMMENDED HEALTH GOALS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, each week. If you want to hit this goal every week, a daily step goal of 7,000 to 8,000 would be adequate depending on your height and stride length. The goal is to reduce the time for which we are stationary due to our sedentary lifestyles and get some physical activity to stay fit. For most people then, 10,000 steps would represent, quite simply, the highest level of physical activity in a week!

Mayo Clinic recommends that people who use fitness trackers incrementally increase the number of steps they take every week. For instance, if you walk 5,000 steps a day on an average, you should try and increase it to 6,000 steps.

IS WALKING FOR YOU?

The CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week will help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage heart diseases and diabetes and strengthen your muscles and bones. The key is to walk as briskly as possible and not at a leisurely pace. Increasing your heart rate while walking is vital for a healthy body.

However, walking is not a full-body workout and neglects your upper body. For an all-round health programme, you will have to supplement walking with other forms of exercise that focus on your arms, torso and triceps. Also, walking may not be for you if you have had injuries to your knees, feet or ankles, as it can aggravate those conditions. But that being said, walking is definitely the easiest and most accessible way you can start working out if you don’t currently do so.

FIT 10,000 STEPS INTO A BUSY DAY

If you have a hectic work schedule, it’s tempting to dump your walking or exercise routine. However, walking is not overrated and you can still incorporate walking into your schedule on the busiest of days. Here’s how.

Walk, work, walk

Add five minutes of walking for every hour that you are at work. If you are at your desk, get up for a glass of water, take in the view from the window or start a conversation with a colleague.

Meet while you walk

There are organisations that already stress on meetings that must take place while standing instead of sitting around a table. If you have a manageable group of people for a meeting, you could simply walk around the office and discuss issues at work.

Walk for your commute

Instead of hopping into an Uber right outside your office, set your pickup point ten minutes away and walk there briskly. This is a simple way to add physical activity to your day.

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