10,000: STEP IT UP!

Are you one of the millions of people who own a fitness tracker? Is everyone you know trying to get those 10,000 steps in per day? OR do you not own a fitness tracker and have a sneaking suspicion that you’re only getting 2,000 -3,000 steps in per day? Does it really matter? It turns out that it does matter. We’ll give you the skinny on the steps.

WHY 10,000 STEPS?

It turns out that science didn’t come up with the 10,000 steps – the Japanese did in the 1960s. According to the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pedometers sold in Japan were marketed under the name "manpo-kei," which means "10,000 steps meter." Pedometers are the great-great-grandparents of fitness trackers.  Even though the 10,000 steps didn’t start out scientifically, science has caught up. Recent studies show there are significant benefits to 10,000 steps per day (even at a slow pace).

  • Women reduced their blood pressure after 24 weeks.
  • Overweight women improved their glucose levels.
Women reduced their blood pressure after 24 weeks. Overweight women improved their glucose levels.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day as a minimum requirement for adults. There is something comforting about even numbers of things. Twelve eggs in a dozen. Eighteen years of schooling. 50 year wedding anniversaries. 100 year old tortoises. 1,000 year old trees. And Malcolm Gladwell stated that 10,000 hours of practice in any field is sufficient to make you an expert. It turns out that 10,000 steps per day will promote better health. Doesn’t that sound better than walking 5.6 miles?10,000 steps is also an equalizer for short and tall people. A long-legged person may need to walk farther than someone with shorter legs. On average, 10,000 steps is about five miles.

You don’t need to wear a fitness tracker, although those will certainly work. A simple pedometer will also work. Some jobs require a lot of walking. A food server for example, can put in 25,000 steps in a single shift at work. The rest of us may need some help getting to 10,000 steps. Here are a few ideas:
  • Ditch the riding lawnmower and push a mower instead
  • Forgo the golf cart and walk the golf course
  • Geography permitting, walk to the post office or the grocery store
  • Park farther from the store
  • Plan a walking meeting
  • Shift your desk from sitting to standing (you’ll walk more)
  • Take an after dinner daily walk with your spouse, child or friend
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walk over to visit a neighbor
  • Walk the dog two miles in the morning and evening
  • Walk your children to school
  • Window shop
If you’ve been sedentary (under 1,000 steps), it’s a good idea to build up to walking 10,000 steps. Try adding steps in increments of 500 every two weeks. Many people believe that it takes six months to lock in a new habit, so be patient.
If you enjoy running or jogging, those steps count too. If you like to bicycle or swim, you’ll need to be happy with a time equivalent. As a rough guideline, walking is a moderate activity which burns about 100 calories for every 15-20 minutes. If it takes you 15-20 minutes to walk 2,000 steps, then your 10,000 step goal would take about one hour and 15-40 minutes. If you bike for an hour and a half, you’ve done the rough equivalent.
Just imagine the shape your shape will be in!


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