JUST about everyone, even fitness novices, have locked into the global step trend of 10,000 steps a day.
The “magic number”, inspired by a 1960s Japanese campaign organised by the developers of the first wearable step counters, has become ingrained in popular culture, with most modern fitness apps and devices pre-programmed to reflect this.
Fitness trainer Gisel Harrow said there is no science to adequately support earlier claims that we can only achieve optimal health by sticking to the 10-thousand steps-a-day regimen. Instead, she recommends starting and finding a healthy range.
“Exercise is a good way to keep in shape and have a healthy lifestyle. One main exercise we do daily is walking, although it doesn't get the respect it deserves, whether for its health benefits, its value for transportation, or its role in recreation,” Harrow shared.
She said that based on studies completed by a number of researchers, by setting daily step targets of minimum 5,000 to a maximum of 10,000 or more steps per day, a person is guaranteed optimal physical health.
“It's fine if you can't get to 10,000 steps, especially if you are just beginning. You will need to gradually ease into walking, and you will find that with time it becomes much easier. A scale that you can work with to guide your daily goals as you ease into your fitness regimen is trying at least 5,000 steps. If you complete fewer than 5,000 steps daily, then you are considered inactive, while anywhere between 5,000 and 9,999 steps, you are classified as active, and 10,000 or above — very active,” Harrow advised.
She said that there are a number of physical as well as health benefits that one can get from even an average of 5,000 steps-a-day.
“Like other forms of regular, moderate exercise, walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress,” Harrow advised.
But if cardiac protection and lower death rates are not enough to get you moving, she said that you should consider that it will help you to lose weight, help with toning your body, and help to stave off and protect you from a range of other debilitating and chronic medical conditions, such as dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.
She recommended that, to make the process fun, having a device to keep track of your daily steps could act as an effective source of motivation.
“So you use the fitness apps on your phones, a pedometer, or invest in one of the smart watches such as the FitBit that allows you to set your own step target and keep count of steps daily. This will help you to stay active while doing your daily activities, whether at work, home or anywhere,” Harrow said.
Some ways that you can keep moving and increase your daily step-count are by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving when you are going short distances, when talking on the phone, especially for extended periods, walk around instead of just sitting, include mini-walks into leisure activities, and take your child or your dog for a walk.
— Penda Honeyghan