Why 10,000 Steps A Day?

We’ve all heard that we should be taking at least 10,000 steps a day for improved health. For some people, that’s easy to hit. For others it’s a bit more difficult. But why 10,000? Well it started back in Japan in the 60’s when the first commercial pedometer was developed. 10,000 steps was the translated name of the device. Research then suggested men who burned at least 2,000 calories per week from exercising had lower risk of cardiovascular disease. So breaking it down, that’s about 300 calories per day which many people can hit by taking approx. 10,000 steps daily. Voila!

Now, that being said, not all steps are created equal. “Walking” steps will yield a different caloric burn than “running” steps. So if weight loss is your goal, you will need to focus on some different aspects of fitness and nutrition. But 10,000 steps does show some really good health benefits. Studies of all sorts have revealed that by taking 10,000, one can lower blood pressure levels, help lower blood glucose levels and cut the risk of developing diabetes.

So how far is 10,000 steps? It’s around 8km. For some, this can be a bit daunting at first. A sedentary person, or someone recovering from injury or giving birth may need to start with 1,000 – 3,000 steps a day and work up from there. A realistic goal would be to add 500 steps per day for the first week. So take 3,500 steps daily for 7 days. Then add another 500 steps per day for the 2nd week and so on and so on. After about 3 months you’ll have developed a new habit that your body will thank you for.

So how do we get more steps in? You will have heard most of these. Some you may not want to hear. But the fact is, you gotta do it for change to happen.

  • Skip making coffee or tea at home and go walk to your neighbourhood coffee shop
  • Take a walk with your spouse, child, dog or friend
  • Don’t check facebook at the end of your lunch, take a 5min walk instead
  • Walk up the escalator (good for the booty too)
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park farther from the store or better yet, walk to the store
  • Get off the subway 1 stop earlier
  • Window shop
  • Try some aerobics or shake your booty in Zumba® (good for you men too, caliente!)
  • Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding

To track your steps you can download a free app for your phone, buy a $10 pedometer or spend a bit more and get yourself some sort of fancy wearable technology. Regardless, while the weather is still nice, take advantage of the beautiful place in which we live, get out there and get moving!

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

By Tamara Vahn, PTS, PFS, HBBA, IFBB Pro