These days we have wearable devices coming out of our ears. You may be rocking the latest FitBit, Jawbone, MisFit shine, Garmin or even a funky old school pedometer! Even if you haven’t used one of these devices, you probably would’ve heard of 10,000 steps a day as being the ideal number a person should take.
So who on earth decided on this number? And is 10,000 steps a day the right amount of steps for you?
Well, back in the 60s, a Japanese company created a “man-po-kei” which in Japanese stands for 10,000 Step Meter. Or in other words, a pedometer. Why 10,000? Basically it is a very auspicious number in Japanese culture. So there you go, the key exercise counter for the last 50 years is based on a lucky number!
So are you feeling lucky? Do you take 10,000 steps a day?
Although the foundations of 10,000 steps may be a bit rocky, it is actually not too bad of a number. If you’re getting 10,000 steps a day, it’s a good indicator that you’re getting a good amount of physical activity. In fact, if you take 10,000 steps a day, it is the same as walking around 8km or walking for roughly over 1.5 hours. One study found that women with hypertension who increased to nearly 10,000 steps a day reduced their blood pressure after 24 weeks. Another study of overweight women found that walking 10,000 steps a day improved their glucose levels.
If you were to move very little during the day, what do you think your step count would be? For someone who tends to sit down most of the day on average their step count is less than 5,000.
The trouble with that is if you sit down all day, research has shown that you don’t allow your body the chance to process all the gunk* that may be travelling around your body on any given day. So all that gunk gets the opportunity to do some damage and have a party rather than get processed by active muscles. Which, you guessed it, can lead to poor health such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
How do I increase my step count?
So if you’re someone who regularly hits around or below the 5000 mark, it may be time to get serious about increasing that number! Experts say that while 10,000 steps a day is a good number to reach, any amount of activity beyond what you’re currently doing will probably be good for your health.
There are some simple ways you can do this which involve walking when you would normally sit! Think about how you can take more steps when you are commuting to work, chatting on the phone, going for a walk after a meal or walking a lap around the office 2-3 times a day. This is a great way to increase productivity and have a break that does not involve snacking or gossiping!
Let’s look at ways to get you moving while you get your day-to-day stuff done. Such as walking to the bus in the morning, getting into your office building and walking to lunch with friends. All the little things that get your step count up. Rather than going for a 1.5 hour walk in the morning which might not be possible in our busy lifestyle.
So start getting step happy! For those of you routinely above the 10,000 steps a day mark, well done! Do not feel you have to stay near that lucky number, shoot for the stars!
*Gunk: official Glyco word for fats, sugars and LDL cholesterol or anything else that causes unwanted damage!