Have you heard of the 10,000 steps theory? Many experts agree that people should aim to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, the equivalent of walking about 5 miles.
Depending on your current level of activity, this may seem like a lot, but it is an easy figure to keep in mind and work towards. Any activity is better than none, of course, so this could serve as a long-term goal while you reach for smaller, more easily attainable goals in the short term.
Aside from the obvious fitness tracking trends with devices like the Fitbit or Jawbone, many phones now come with built-in walking apps, and basic pedometers also come fairly cheaply these days. At the very least, having this goal in mind and tracking your steps can be a great way to actually note how active you are in your daily life.
If you have a job that has you on your feet you may find the goal of 10,000 steps easy to achieve, while if you have an office job or sit at a desk all day, this may seem impossible. (I promise, it’s not!) However, tracking your steps will encourage you to increase your movement throughout the day and make the necessary changes to get you there, like walking to work, walking in place at your desk, taking the stairs, taking an aerobics class, going for a hike, etc.
History Of 10,000 Steps Goal
In the 1960s, pedometers that were being sold in Japan were marketed under the name “mano-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter,” according to Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the Walking Behaviour Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. So while the theory itself isn’t based in science, research is showing that walking offers many benefits, and 10,000 steps is a good goal to strive for.
One study found that walking for at least two miles a day can cut your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by about half.
Another study found that walking daily reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for an hour or two could cut back a man’s risk of developing stroke by as much as one third, regardless of the walking pace. This same study concluded that taking a 3 hour long walk daily reduced the risk to two thirds.
Walking Is Great For The Fit & Unfit
Although walking can be an amazing tool for the sedentary, overweight, or just generally inactive, it won’t noticeably increase the fitness levels of those already active. It can be an amazing maintenance tool, however, and offers other benefits like stress management.
Unlike other, more intense forms of exercise like aerobics, cardio, or high intensity interval training, you do not need to give your body days to recover and rest after walking, making it the perfect activity to incorporate into your daily routine. That being said, walking will not build up your body much either. It can help shed pounds, but it won’t help you build a lot of muscle. It is nevertheless a useful tool for staying healthy, particularly in old age.
10,000 steps a day is equivalent to about 5 miles, or 9 kilometers. Most people do not come close to reaching that goal. According to the UK’s National Health Service, the average person walks between only 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day.
This is why tracking your steps is so useful; it will give you a real understanding of how much you are walking throughout the day and how you can improve. If you do come in well under the recommendation, don’t panic. You can start small by aiming to increase your step count by 1,000 each day, which is easily attainable. It can be as simple as choosing to walk to and from work or taking a stroll through the park after dinner. (Or you could get a dog, which will really get you moving!) You’ll be surprised by how quickly the steps add up with these small changes.
You can also share your goals with friends for extra encouragement and company on your walks. You’ll benefit from this extra time to connect and deepen friendships, and from increased time outdoors, which has many proven benefits.
Incredibly, research has even shown that getting up and walking for just two minutes out of each hour can increase your lifespan by 33% compared with those who do not.
Walking Can Also Lower Stress
Stress is one of the number one causes of disease, and it truly is the silent killer. But walking has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels and make you feel more calm and at ease. Other studies have even shown that it can reduce depression and overthinking.
Walking is a simple and natural activity which offers an astounding number of health benefits. Start walking more today and see how your life changes.
What To Take Away
As discussed above, add as much walking to your day as possible. You don’t have to track your steps every single day but it is great to get an idea of how many steps you are actually taking. For this reason using a pedometer at first to get an idea of how many steps you normally take is worth while. They are very inexpensive and easy to use. You can buy one here.