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Are You Still Walking Ten Thousand Steps a Day?


In recent years, there has been a lot of hype in the media about the importance of walking lots of steps every day - with the emphasis on the number ten thousand.

But how relative is this now?

If you used to count your daily steps, are you still doing so - and is this an advisable plan to follow?

Walking ten thousand steps a day lowers risk of early death

Recent research has found that walking ten thousand steps a day is still a great health help, lowering the risk of heart disease and early death even if those taking the steps spend most of their day seated.

In the past, experts found that people who spent a lot of time sitting while awake - for example at their desk or watching television - were more likely to suffer an early death and develop heart disease.  And until now, it had been unclear whether walking could offset the effects of too much sitting down.

But now a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that every EXTRA step above two thousand two hundred steps per day (up to about ten thousand) reduces those risks, regardless of how much of the remainder of the day is spent sitting.

The researchers found that the lowest risk of early death was among those people who took nine thousand to ten thousand five hundred steps per day.

What about lowering risks for strokes and heart attacks?

The lowest risks for these were in people taking about nine thousand seven hundred steps a day, cutting such risks of early death by thirty nine percent and the risk of a heart attack by twenty one percent.

It is never too late to start either and if you can start to build up the amount of exercise you take, research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that even low levels of exercise can help cut the risk of stroke.

How did the suggestion of ten thousand steps first come about?

When you do the math, ten thousand steps works out to approximately five miles - which is a high number and you might be surprised to learn that the suggestion was the result of a 1960s marketing campaign in Japan.

In the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a company came up with a device which they started marketing to the health-conscious.  It was called a Manpo-Kei. In Japanese, "man" means ten thousand, "po" means steps and "kei" means meter. So it was, literally, a ten thousand steps meter.

The device was an early pedometer, based on the work of Dr Yoshiro Hatano, a young academic at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare and he was worried that the Japanese were busy importing a slothful American lifestyle, as well as a love of watching baseball, and wanted to help them get more active.

He reckoned that if he could persuade his fellow Japanese to increase their daily steps from four thousand to around ten thousand, then they would burn off approximately five hundred extra calories a day and remain slim. 

Today, there are many different gadgets available to help you count your ten thousand steps including a smartwatch, a Fitbit or an iPhone app.

How to boost your daily steps?

  • Go for a morning mile.  Find a ‘walking loop’ near your home or work place that’s roughly a mile and get your steps in first thing in the morning for a refreshing start of the day.
  • It almost goes without say but take the stairs whenever you can.
  • Do your (food) shopping on foot. Carrying your groceries home is a great weight training exercise for your arms as long as you do not suffer from any related health problems. 
  • Fun and games by chasing your children if they are of a suitable age!
  • Take a stroll after dinner. It’s not only healthy, but also a nice way to reflect on your day or have a good conversation with your spouse.  And don't let the weather put you off!
  • Set a reminder to get up from your chair every hour. Just grab a glass of water, go to the bathroom or walk over to your colleague to communicate instead of sending an email.
  • Use public transport to get around. Studies show that people who take public transport, walk anything from eight to thirty three minutes more each day than those who use their own vehicles - and of course it is better for the environment too.
  • Boost your productivity and energy levels by stretching your legs during your lunch break. 




 10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high? - Mayo Clinic

Do we need to walk 10,000 steps a day? - BBC Future

This Easy Fitness Tracker Hack Will Make Sure You’re Actually Getting *All* Those Steps In | Well+Good (wellandgood.com)