You dont need to walk 10,000 steps

by | Health & Wellbeing

I enjoy watching Michael Mosley health programmes on TV, and a recent one was The Truth About Getting Fit.

It’s interesting as their findings tied in with my thoughts, that aiming for 10,000 steps a day is not the best way to get fit.
My take is

  • You focus on quantity of steps, not quality, and can clock up 5000 steps walking around the shops. It’s the quality that is important.
  • It doesn’t take account of the speed of walking, and a stroll down the country lane is not the same as a power walk. You need to step it out.
  • You may prioritise walking to other activity such as weights at the gym where you don’t increase the step count. Strength training is important.

My fitness tracker is now in the drawer.

What I’m doing instead is to do a 30-minute power walk each day.Fully focused on moving fast and being a bit out of breath.

What was interesting from the BBC article that accompanied the programme was to read that this target of 10,000 steps was not based on scientific research but the result of a Japanese marketing campaign for an early pedometer in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The pedometer was based on the work of Dr Yoshiro Hatano who wanted to get people to be more active:

He reckoned that if he could persuade his fellow Japanese to increase their daily steps from 4,000 to around 10,000 then they would burn off approximately 500 extra calories a day and remain slim. That, apparently, was how the “10,000 steps a day” regime was born.

For the TV show –The Truth about Getting Fit, they did an experiment to compare the benefits and ease of doing 10,000 steps against something called, “Active 10“.

With Active 10 you don’t count steps. Instead, you do three brisk 10-minute walks a day.

There were 2 groups: One was asked to hit the 10,000-step target – around five miles – in a day, while the other group was asked to do three sessions of “Active 10” – which adds up to around 1.5 miles – more like 3,000 steps. The Active 10 group were also told to walk at a brisk pace to work their heart and lungs.

The results were that it was much easier for The Active 10 group to hit their target, and they were making it social and walking together.

“The Active 10 group actually did 30% more ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ than the 10,000-step group, even though they moved for less time. “And it’s when you are doing moderate intensity activity that you are starting to get the greatest health benefits.”

To increase our fitness, we need to get our heart beating faster and this can lower our risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

If the Active 10 option appeals, you can learn more from the NHS website and download an app for your phone.

So, what about you? Which will be better for you?

Or do you prefer cycling, swimming, Zumba We need to think about what we want to do, and for many the social aspect is as important. I may just book for aqua fit classes!

I’d love to know what you think and do feel free to comment below, I look forward to hearing from you.

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Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.