Should You Really Be Walking 10,000 Steps A Day?
Everyone seems to be wanting to hit their 10,000-step goal to stay fit and healthy. However, the research behind it might not be what you expected. Research has shown that people who are spending less time sitting have healthier cholesterol levels, narrower waistlines and lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases. Further research suggests that even standing, or walking, combined with the right diet, helps in weight management and improving biomarkers.
But is it necessary to reach 10,000 steps for it to make a difference? The answer is no.
Where did the magic number come from?
You might think that the number 10,000 is a golden number that was revealed after years of research. The simple truth is that the magic number became popular after the success of a marketing campaign for a company that sold a pedometer called the Manpo-kei: “man” meaning 10,000, “po” meaning steps and “kei” meaning meter. The campaign was launched shortly before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the number seems to have stuck.
Does it really work?
If aiming to complete those 10,000 steps makes you walk more, then it is a great strategy. The most recent large study, led by the University of Massachusetts, followed over 2,000 middle-aged adults from different ethnic backgrounds over a period of 11 years. The researchers found that those taking at least 7,000 steps a day had a 50 to 70% lower risk of dying during the study period compared with those taking fewer than 7,000 steps a day. However, this number may not be suitable nor attainable for all.
To some the 10,000 steps can seem like a high goal to achieve every single day, which might make them not want to even try. Failing to achieve your goal day after day might make you want to give up. To get people with sedentary lifestyles walking, a lower goal might be better psychologically.
On another hand, counting steps might be counterproductive for the fittest too – signaling that they should stop once they’ve reached the magic 10,000 instead of going with what feels best for them. To some, walking with a goal robs them from the pleasure of doing it and making it feel more like work.
Should you still be counting?
Do what works for you. Count if it motivates you. It’s better if you can set a goal that works with your lifestyle. Instead of walking you can try an activity that gets you moving that you would enjoy doing every day.
If you feel like you need support in setting goals that work for you, the Valeo Health Coaches are there to help you set those goals, create a health plan that works for you and support you to reach your ultimate health and wellbeing.