Ten thousand steps a day: The famous rule that has taken-off over lockdown as a helpful motivator for keeping fit. But why 10,000? Where did this number come from and why is it a good guideline?
The 10,000 steps a day target appears to have originated with a Japanese pedometer released for sale in 1965 with the name “Manpo-kei”, translating to “10,000 steps meter”. Since then other popular smartwatches have jumped on the bandwagon, with brands like Fitbit including it as a suggested daily activity target. In other words, it seems someone grabbed this arbitrary number as a fun marketing tool for a new pedometer, and now people across the world use it as a reason to get out for those extra 2,000 steps when it comes to around 8pm on a Monday evening. So, why has it stuck?
Well of course, the main reason is most likely the significant health benefits that have since been investigated, including improved heart health and mental health, decreased diabetes risk and improved sleep. Ten thousand steps usually equates to around 30 minutes of exercise and can be a really fabulous way to maintain fitness levels and can be easily adjusted depending on your fitness goals.
One study from California State University demonstrated that mood lifted in correlation with increased numbers of daily steps, so get on out there… before you know it you’ll be walking on clouds. Harvard School of Public Health also found that 30 minutes of daily walking, i.e more or less our golden number of 10,000 steps, cut stroke risk by at least 20%. Not to mention the potential to burn calories and fat if that’s amongst your fitness goals, as well as a yummy dose of vitamin D if you’re taking your steps to the outdoors.
Some studies have suggested that 6,000-8,000 steps can still have protective benefits with regard to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and certain cancers. Whilst this is not an excuse to skip those extra 2,000-4,000 steps 👀, it is a friendly reminder that every extra step helps and it’s not an all-or-nothing game… on a day where you’re sat at a desk for hours and you know you probably can’t make 10,000, don’t just write the whole day off; get in any extra few steps you can.
There is still ongoing research looking at the upper and lower boundaries of this guideline and the impact of the intensity of the exercise being carried out. Nonetheless, this helpful target is a handy to way to make sure you’re not forgetting your daily movement and exercise. Best of luck to all our steppers out there with hitting their 10,000 steps target, we’ll be working on it too!