The mythology of steps
We are constantly being told that we must strive to walk a minimum on 10,000 steps a day and for insurance companies such as Vitality, if you hit this target, you get rewarded.
However, not many people actually know or care if there is any medical basis for the claim. Would you be surprised to learn that 10,000 steps was originally the trade name for a Japanese pedometer sold by Yamasa Clock in Japan in 1965. So not much medical basis for this. Some research was carried out in the early 1970’s they found by walking around 10,000 steps then you reduce your risk of dementia by 50% and cancer by 30%. Now I’m certain someone will say but there you re then that’s the proof. Again, I would argue against this because in the 1960’s and 70’s the fast-food industry as we know it didn’t exist, which has shown to have a far worse effect on peoples health including increasing the number of people suffering from Dementia, Cancer and heart disease.
From my understanding the basis for 10,000 steps is it equates to around 5 miles for an average man. However, this fails to take into consideration that there is no such thing as an average person. As a 5’ 7” man I have a longer stride than my wife who is 4’ 11”, I also can walk faster than she can.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that everyone needs to walk 10,000 steps but what steps are preferable 10,000 ambling steps or 10,000 power walking steps. What about if the person has been ill and just walking from their bed to the bathroom exhausts them or what about an injury, meaning they cannot walk anywhere near 10,000 steps.
While we know that walking is a fabulous form of exercise, we shouldn’t get hung up by a figure that was originally a brand name.
Why not just set yourself a daily target of minutes & not steps. You could aim for an hour of meaningful movement. But I hear you say Winter is coming and it’s going to be cold, and I feel it in me bones or I can’t get to a gym so ok big mouth what should I do? The answer is actually very simple put on a CD and dance or if that doesn’t appeal to you just walk around your room or flat or house. Remember, what is important is moving not an arbitrary meaningless 10,000 steps.