You may have read articles online that argue that taking 10,000 steps every day can significantly improve your health. It’s certainly a popular piece of fitness advice, and it makes a lot of sense. Walking is an excellent way to be healthy and stay active. And many of us are so busy that we just don’t have time for regular exercise, so the idea of exercising while we do our regular everyday activities is an attractive one.
Though the number of 10,000 steps may seem like medically derived advice found after meticulous scientific research, the number was actually first popularized as a business slogan by Japanese walking clubs over 30 years ago to help sell pedometers. However, aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day is not a bad goal at all. Though the number 10,000 doesn’t have a scientific origin, the number of steps you take every day is a good indicator of your fitness and activity levels. In fact the American Heart Association uses the 10,000 step guideline to encourage Americans to get active and stay healthy. The average person takes 3,000-4,000 steps a day. A person who takes 10,000 steps every day is fairly active because 10,000 steps is the equivalent of roughly five miles.
The number of calories that you burn while taking your 10,000 steps actually depends on your weight and the speed at which you walk. According to the American Council on Exercise, a person of average weight can burn 3,500 calories a week walking 10,000 steps a day. So if you are at a healthy weight and want to maintain it, this is a good way to do it.
However, be aware that if you are overweight and want to lose weight, you may need to walk more than 10,000 steps a day. You should aim to burn about 600 more calories than you consume. You can accomplish this through a combination of increasing your steps and cutting your calories and, of course, adding some more exercise to your weekly routine.
But what if you’re overweight and the idea of 10,000 steps a day seems daunting? Fear not! You do not have to go from being inactive to walking 10,000 steps in one day. First, purchase a pedometer, wear it for a few days, and go about your regular routine so that you can determine the average number of steps you take in a day. Once you’ve figured out your average, then use this as a guideline to add a few more steps every day or two. The number of steps you add will depend on you. (Note: If you are worried about your joints or general health, then please talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program. A different kind of low-impact exercise, like water aerobics, may be better for you). Here are some things you can do to add steps to your everyday routine:
- Park farther away when you go to the store
- Or, even better, walk to the store.
- If you live in a place with public transit, consider using it. You can get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
- Take your dog for a nice long walk.
- Skip the elevator and use the stairs
- Get up to change the channel on the television (every little bit counts!)
- Walk with a friend
If you want to lose weight consider the 10,000 steps as a motivator. Work up to it and then add more steps and then 30-60 minutes of dedicated walking or another type of exercise a few times a week. Soon you’ll notice that you’re more active and have more energy and that you’re on your way to having a healthy and happy body.