What’s magic about 10,000 steps?

“The 10,000 daily goal is built on bad science”

That’s the claim is a research recap done by The Guardian.


Here’s the skinny…


According to the Guardian:

10,000 steps is a completely arbitrary figure, one that originates from a successful Japanese marketing campaign in the mid-60s.

Yamasa designed the world’s first wearable step-counter, a device called a manpo-kei, which translates as “10,000-step meter”.

They just felt that was a number that was indicative of an active lifestyle and should be healthy.

Some argue that the 10,000 target is too high … increasing health risk for folks with medical conditions or decades of sedentary laziness … and potentially demotivating if folks perceive the number to be beyond a reasonable reach.

Others argue that some is good and more is better.

But, nobody has been able to plot the response curve (e.g. how much better is 10,000 vs. 8,000 or 15,000 vs. 10,000) … or establish an upper bound (i.e. might health benefits peak at, say, 9,000 steps and then decline as more steps are taken?)

I’m definitely in the more is better camp … and, 10,000 strikes me as a reasonable target.

And, I agree with researchers who recommend that folks worry about both quality as well as quantity.

That is, all steps are not created equal.

For example, I was surprised that my hard 30-minute elliptical workout leaves me dripping with sweat but barely budged my FitBit … conversely, since I’m a room-walker,  teaching a 90-minute class would add add several hundred steps to my counter without taxing me.

What’s up with that?

Part are the counting mechanics,  If your arm doesn’t swing, you don’t get credit for the steps.

That worked against me on the elliptical, but worked to my advantage in the class room … especially  if I complemented my walking with pontifical hand-waving.

As a general rule, researchers say to make sure that your walking cadence is fast enough to elevate your heartbeat and breathing.

The rule of thumb: make sure your walking pace is at least 100 steps per minute.

That means getting your 10,000 steps accomplished in 100 minutes … not spread across all 24 hours

Bottom line: Get off the couch and start walking … or running … the faster the better.

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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