In the last few years, FitBits and other pedometers have become immensely popular to promote weight loss. The general recommendation is to walk 10,000 steps per day, which is the equivalent of about five miles. Wearing a pedometer or fitness tracker is an easy way to track your steps each day and monitor your progress.
Walking 10,000 steps per day for health and weight loss was popularized originally in Japan as a sales and marketing tool for pedometer manufacturers. Researcher Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke says the original 10,000 figure was not based on medical research. Once it was established, however, the research that followed found it was a good indicator of whether or not the daily recommended amount of physical activity during the day was being achieved. Now, many activity monitors and pedometer apps use it as a standard goal.
Even a small increase in steps each day can make a positive impact on your overall health. Certainly, many other factors also impact your health status – age, gender, and chronic diseases. 6,000 steps per day were shown to correlate with a lower death rate in men. 10,000 steps per day are too few for children. But 10,000 daily steps can be too challenging for the elderly, sedentary or those with chronic diseases. An inactive person takes 1,000-3,000 steps or less in their daily activity of moving around the house. Unless you have an active job, such as a restaurant server or nurse, it would be difficult to log 10,000 steps from basic daily activity.
Most people achieve their 10,000 via one or more sustained walks, the equivalent of 30-60 minutes or more of walking per day. That equals the minimum daily exercise recommendation by most health authorities to reduce health risks. A study of steps per day and weight, body mass index (BMI), and other indicators for men and women showed that the people who logged more pedometer steps per day weighed less, on average, and had a lower BMI. Bottom line? Get to stepping!
If you’re looking for some new places to walk, check out the National Park Service website for maps of walking/hiking trails in the DMV. There’s an active Facebook group for walkers that offers a lot of support and more information. Please remember to check with your docs before undertaking any new exercise program.
So let’s all take steps and do our best to get fit and healthy in the new year! Get your 10,000 a day.