You may have heard that taking 10,000 steps a day is a goal that most people should set for themselves. The average American walks a little over 5,000 steps a day, but many people only take around 2,000 steps. So will moving up to 10,000 steps really improve your health?
The Origins of 10,000 Steps A Day
The idea of taking 10,000 steps a day to get healthier originated in Japan, with the introduction of the first modern pedometers. The Japanese word for those devices translated to “10,000 steps meter.” Introduced around the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, these pedometers took Japan by storm. And thus the idea of taking 10,000 steps a day to better health was born. The idea of taking 10,000 steps a day gradually took hold in the United States too, especially as the problem of obesity continued to grow year after year.
Health Benefits of Walking
Health professionals and researchers have debated for years whether 10,000 steps really is the magic number. The more steps people take every day, the better their mood becomes. And walking at least thirty minutes a day (3,000-4,000 steps) can cut stroke risk by 24%, as well as burning calories and fat. But walking twice that amount can cut stroke risk by 46%. So some health professionals say that 7-8,000 steps is enough, while others point to studies indicating 15,000 as a better goal. What isn’t being debated, however, is the recommendation to get at least 30 minutes of exercise or physical activity per day.
And while 10,000 steps a day may not be much of a goal for someone who already stays in shape by running, lifting weights, or playing sports regularly, for the average sedentary person it is a good first goal to work towards getting healthier. Getting a pedometer and measuring those 10,000 steps can start to develop the discipline necessary to get in the habit of getting into shape.
Some Tips on How to Get Moving
- Park at far ends of the parking lot to maximized the distance walked to stores.
- Get up and walk around for 5 minutes every hour at work.
- Take stairs instead of elevators and escalators. If walking up stairs is too hard, at least try to walk down stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
- Walk around the perimeter of the grocery store one time before heading to the checkout.
If you miss your goal a few times, don’t give up. Just keep trying to get back into the habit of moving around and not remaining sedentary. This is one of those areas where effort really is more important than the immediate results. Take the first steps today towards a healthier, happier life.