How many steps do you walk each day?
In my previous post, I have mentioned the 10,000 steps challenge. Maybe you have heard about it. How far is 10,000 steps anyway? The average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long. That means it takes just over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is approximately 5 miles. A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day, while the average adult walks about 5,000 steps daily.
So where does the magic number come from? The origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren’t exactly scientific. It’s believed that the concept originated in Japan during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. As Olympic fever swept through the country, pedometers became a raging trend. One company came out with a device called a manpo-kei, which literally translates to “10,000 steps meter”.
Since then 10,000 steps has become a commonly-acknowledged goal for daily fitness across the world. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, for example, recommends “a daily walk of 8,000 to 10,000 steps”. The UK National Obesity Forum says that a person who walks between 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day qualifies as “moderately active”. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease, the number one killer in America. Even the World Health Organization recommended the average daily steps of 10,000 for a lifestyle to be considered active.
Why 10,000 Steps?
Experts say that 10,000 steps a day is a good number to reach. As well as being easily digestible, it’s challenging while also realistic. But the target appears to be a relatively arbitrary figure. Fitbit, a US-based smart pedometer and fitness tracker company, set a default goal of 10,000 steps a day for its members. Human, another iOS app, inspires users to be active for 30 minutes a day instead.
The 10,000-steps-a-day goal is said to be enough to reduce your risk for disease and help you lead a longer, healthier life. Studies conducted suggest that people who increased their walking to 10,000 steps daily experience various health benefits such as lower BMI, reduced weight and waist size, improved sleep and reduced stress, increase in fitness and energy levels, improved glucose levels for overweight individuals and less risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease.
One of the well-known studies was held last 2010 by the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC). It involved 98,000 participants from 65 countries, mostly living sedentary, and motivated them to walk 12,693 steps per day for eight months. Research conducted by Monash University in the GCC’s founding city of Melbourne, Australia, cited proofs of the long-term effects of the GCC.
The 10,000-Steps Program
The 10,000 step program is a good program to help get people motivated, or to get sedentary people moving. Unless you have a very active lifestyle or profession, reaching 10,000 steps on a given day is a considerable stretch to your daily routine. It is recommended that most individuals fit 30 to 60 minutes of dedicated walking (or other exercise) into their routine at least 3 to 4 days a week. You can start with as little as ten minutes per day and gradually increase your walking routine. A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day.
To reach 10,000 steps, it is necessary to create some structure in your walking routine. This could mean a lifestyle change for most people. Some suggestions on how you can increase your daily steps are outlined as follows:
- Take a walk with family or friends. Or walk your dog. Walking alone for long distances tends to be boring. It would help if you’ll buddy up with someone. If no one is available, listening to music or audiobooks will do.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator. I’m doing this with friends, and it’s surprising to note that I find it enjoyable.
- If you have a car, park farther from your destination. Or better yet, walk to your destination. This would also help you cut your gas and parking fee expenses. Two birds in one stone.
- Get up to change the channel, instead of using the remote control.
- Window shop. Seriously, I hate malling. But I have a boyfriend who likes window shopping. So he’ll be helping me on this one.
- Walk around the neighborhood.
- Step it up inside.Indoor walking workout DVDs are available and allow you to get moving regardless of the weather. Recommended are Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds series as well as Jessica Smith’s Motivating Walking
- Walk with a purpose.Compete with other friends to see who can walk the most steps in a week. One side benefit of this is you’ll be looking for opportunities to walk. Once you settle into the challenge of walking 10,000 steps in a day you will be surprised of how creative you can get.
If you still find it hard to reach the 10,000 steps target, consider breaking your step goal into three smaller goals throughout the day: a morning walk, a midday walk, and an evening walk. You can also split up the steps during a normal workday (8-9 hours). That means several half mile walks (less than 10 minutes of time), or just over 1,000 steps per hour, spread out across the day. It won’t be realistic for everyone to do this at work, but it may be realistic for some people to take a few 10-minute breaks during the workday—then squeeze the remaining 10-minute walks before or after work. Set a timer on your phone or computer and walk just 5 minutes every hour of the day until bedtime.
Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bed time. Pedometer apps are also available in Google PlayStore and iOS AppStore. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook, and keep notes on how you feel, how your body is improving, or other changes you are making to improve your health. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised how many (or how few) steps you get in each day.
Happy walking! 🙂