How many steps do we need?
When it comes to staying in shape and staying healthy, we're generally told to aim for 10,000 steps each day. This might be a difficult goal to meet, especially when we're juggling work, other obligations or are cooped up at home in an attempt to maintain social distancing. Most of us are aware that 10,000 steps is widely advised as a goal to reach – but how and when did this goal become popularised?
In 1965, a Japanese Clock pedometer was introduced and was marketed as a 10,000 steps device. Although it originated as a marketing concept, the use of the pedometer caught on, and this target was almost universally adopted. Many smartwatches integrate the 10,000 steps goal, including FitBit.
The 10,000-step-per-day goal appears to have been inspired by a Yamasa Clock pedometer introduced in Japan in 1965. The instrument was dubbed "Manpo-kei," which means "10,000 steps metre" in Japanese. This was intended to be a marketing tool for the device, but it appears to have caught on as the daily step goal around the world. Popular smartwatches, such as Fitbit, integrate it in their daily activity goals. (This number is adjustable)
The fact is, studies have found that achieving this step goal improves heart health, mental health, and even reduces the risk of diabetes. It is estimated that the average person walks about 100 steps per minute, which means that it takes less than 30 minutes for the average person to walk a mile. So someone would have to walk 4-5 miles a day (about 2 hours of activity) to reach their 10,000-step goal.
However, while some studies have shown that walking 10,000 steps has health benefits, a recent study from Harvard Medical School found that walking an average of about 4,400 steps per day is sufficient to significantly reduce a woman's risk of death. The more people walked, the lower the risk of death until it stabilized at about 7,500 steps per day. No additional benefit was observed with increasing the number of steps. We don't know if it will produce similar results for men, but this is one example of how everyday movement can improve health and reduce the risk of death.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity) per week, but research shows that even moderate-intensity exercise can improve health. Exercise improves it even more.
This means that your steps throughout the day can contribute to your 150-minute goal activity. Activity may also help reduce the harm of sitting for extended periods of time. Studies have shown that people who sit for more than 8 hours per day have a 59% higher risk of death compared to those who sit for less than 4 hours per day. But they also found that doing 6075 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day in people eliminated an increased risk of death.
So, it’s pretty clear that walking briskly can help mitigate the negative effects of sitting for too longIncreasing physical activity, such as stairs, reduces the risk of death by improving health, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as dementia and certain cancers. In some cases, it can help improve health conditions like type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also help improve and maintain our immune system.
If you want to increase the number of steps you take each day or want to move more, increasing your current number of steps by getting up for a walk every hour in the work day is one easy way. Another easy way to get more movement every day is to take the stairs more or join an online exercise program if you work from home. It may also be helpful to see a friend for a walk rather than meeting at a cafe or pub. This option can also help you maintain social distancing during this pandemic.
However, if you are the sort of person who forgets to regularly drink water or get up when you’re too engrossed in work, some technology might be able to help. OurCheckup’s range of devices are designed to assist the everyday person in achieving their health goals. Whether you’d like to have an ‘activity’ reminder to help you get up and move when your smart watch detects you being too stationary, or if you simply would like to track your steps across a period of time, the use of technology can make things more straightforward for you.
And given that even a little bit of physical activity has a positive effect on your health, don’t wait till the new year to start embarking on those resolutions. Why not start today?