We’ve all heard about the recommended 10,000 steps per day to be healthy. But where did that number come from, why is it important, and more importantly, why should you care?
So who came up with the 10,000 steps per day idea, anyway?
Some people believe it’s a completely arbitrary number, but it isn’t completely random.
So, what’s the big deal?
10,000 steps on average equals about 5 miles and approximately 500 calories burned. Burning 500 calories per day translates into burning 3,500 calories per week which is equivalent to 1 pound of fat. So burning an extra 500 calories per day can result in, for a normal adult, one pound of fat loss per week (in conjunction with the correct diet and caloric intake) , among other added health benefits, such as reduction in stress, improved mood, increased energy, and not to mention the benefits it has on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Exercise and Health
The recommendation for daily activity (in general, aside from the 10,000 steps) from the Surgeon General in 2001, David Satcher, is to add about 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day ON TOP of your customary daily activities. Is this enough to become a weight loss program or prevent unwanted weight gain? No. It is purely the minimum requirement to maintain health.
You don’t need a fancy-shmancy FitBit or Apple Watch that costs an arm and a leg and part of your soul. You can use a simple pedometer if you’re only worried about the step-tracking.
Also, if you do have a smart watch or FitBit, and you wear it all the time, even when you sleep like a lot of folks do, or have a sedentary job that requires a lot of wrist motion, keep in mind that you may accumulate steps when you’re not even walking. It’s difficult to have an exactly accurate step count with these devices. Unless you had some chip implanted in your leg or something, they’re a little bit off.
I have a smart watch and when I do sleep with it on, I’ll deduct about 2,000 steps or so, just to get a more accurate number when I reach my 10,000+ steps.
- Track your normal steps per day using a step tracker for one week. If you’re nowhere near 10,000 steps, work up to that number slowly, in daily or weekly increments. It’s pretty challenging to reach 10,000 steps without intentionally trying to workout or go out for a walk.
- Begin logging your steps. For an entire week or two, log all of your steps and don’t do anything out of your normal routine. This will give you a good idea about how to start your walking program and how it needs to be progressed.
- Every two weeks or so, increase your goal. Look back on your log and use the highest number of steps for that period as your goal to hit daily until you reach 10,000 steps.
- If you have a history of knee, ankle, or hip injuries, or any joint concerns, make sure you consult your physician prior to beginning any new program.
- Always wear a good pair of sneakers. Shoes especially made for running are the best option, because they offer the more structure and support. Always remember to replace your sneakers every 6 months.
But what if I don’t like to walk?
If you prefer playing a sport or running outside or on a treadmill, this is still a great way to get your steps in! It doesn’t have to solely be walking each day. You can switch it up, or do an activity that you enjoy!
So you’ve reached 10,000 steps…now what?
It takes roughly 6 months to “lock-in” a new behavior as a permanent habit. Keep it up! Try new activities! It’s okay to skip a few days, if you’re ill or go on a trip, but the more you stick to your program, the easier it’ll get and it’ll just become routine for you – just like part of your day. If you do have to take a few days off, just get back into the grove and continue. Don’t give up! The more days you skip, the more likely you’ll end up abandoning your program altogether.
If you care to read more up on this topic, click here.
You CAN do it!
That’s all for now, now go get your 10,000 steps in for the day and have a great rest of your week!