You have probably heard that you should try to walk 10,000 steps a day in order to keep healthy, but is this true and what are the health benefits if you do? While Fitbit owners will be aware of the 10,000 steps a day plan, the actual idea comes from 1960s Japan where ‘Manpo-Kei’ (which means ’10,000 steps meter’) was first popularized. But is this goal something we need to strive for, and will it really make a difference to your health?
Research has shown that, when coupled with other healthy behavior such as a good diet, taking 10,000 steps a day can lead to a decrease in illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. In fact, one physician, Michael Roizen asserts that:
However, you don’t have to hit 10,000 steps a day in order to get health benefits. The Centers for Disease and Control recommend that people do 150 hours of moderate activity each week (just 30 minutes a day), plus two days or more of muscle-strengthening activity (like going to the gym). In terms of walking, 150 minutes per week is equal to about 7,500 steps a day.
Neil Johannsen, assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University, explained:
Of course, those who walk even more steps (such as postmen who were shown to walk 15,000 steps a day) see even greater health benefits. However, the key is to start moving, but how can you keep motivated and get those steps?
Some recommend that you buy a pedometer which can monitor your activity and keep you motivated to hit or beat your targets. Parking a little further from your destination and walking a bit further will help build up your steps, as will making sure you get up and move around for 5 or 10 minutes in every hour at work.
Also, don’t worry if you struggle to hit the 10,000 steps mark right away, aiming for a lower amount such as 3,000-4,000 will still see you cover more ground than most! If you have been living a more sedentary life it is also best to take things slow and build up your steps and exercise regime bit by bit rather than risk injury!
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