Are 10,000 steps a day the magic number for health?
Many people have heard that you should walk 10,000 steps a day for optimal health and as a result, they fastidiously monitor their progress toward this goal daily via fitness trackers. But the 10,000 number first became the goal back when Japan was getting ready to host the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
As the country prepared for the Olympics, there was an increased awareness of fitness and exercise in the general population to fight lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. At about the same time, the modern pedometer—an easy-to-clip-on gadget that calculated the number of steps walked—was introduced to Japanese consumers.
The manufacturer called the pedometer manpo-kei, Japanese for 10,000-step meter.
Since walking is the simplest form of exercise—it doesn’t require special equipment or training and is something most traditionally abled people do already and can do anywhere, walking and being able to track how many steps you took in a day became a focus for the health conscious. Not only was manpo-kei the name for the new pedometers, but it also became the mantra for dedicated Japanese walkers and those in walking clubs where 10,000 was the minimum number of steps to achieve each day.
Since then, many from healthcare professionals to health coaches and fitness gurus across the world adopted the 10,000 number as the walking goal for most people to achieve each day. Studies reveal there’s nothing magical about 10,000 steps a day and a recent study found that for older women walking 4,000 to 7,500 steps a day had health benefits. Fitness goals need to be customized to the needs of an individual, but consensus remains that regular physical activity whether it’s Pilates or walking is definitely good for your health.
Health benefits of walking
There are many health benefits to walking, including:
How many steps are right for you?
Fitness trackers are great to determine your baseline step goal. For some people, 6,000 steps a day will be a good goal to set and for the activity levels of others, they need to go well beyond 10,000 to push themselves to the next level. It’s important to be consistent with walking and physical activity no matter where your starting point or goal. Once you establish your starting point by tracking your steps for a week and figuring out the average steps you take per day, try to improve that number by 1,000 steps every two weeks. Once you consistently hit 10,000 steps per day, you can opt to try to achieve 15,000 per day depending on other exercises you do and your fitness goals.
Here are some ideas and tips for fitting more walking into your day: