We’ve all heard the old adage of reaching 10,000 steps per day, but where did this come from? Did you know that this figure was originally used for marketing in the lead up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, as a way of selling step counters? Let’s see if it all adds up…
- The average Aussie takes 7,400 steps per day
- The National Physical Activity Guidelines are 150 minutes of exercise per week
- This could be achieved by walking 30 minutes, 5 days per week
- A 30 minute walk accumulates around 3,000-4,000 steps per day
- When added to the average daily steps, this would be slightly over 10,000 steps
- Therefore… hitting 10,000 steps per day does help you reach the guidelines, assuming a dedicated walk has happened in there!
It’s important to note that if you have a chronic disease, or work a sedentary job, the 10,000 step target may not be achievable. Instead, focus on getting a 30 minute exercise session into your day.
A little bit of motivation - one study found that for every 1,000 step-count increase per day, there was a 6% reduction in early death. Those who exceeded 10,000 steps had a 46% lower risk. This is in addition to the myriad benefits to physical and mental health which we know regular exercise can bring.
So how can we increase our step count in order to keep our smart watches, hearts, body and minds happy?
- Pop on a Youtube workout that is appropriate for your level of fitness - there are step aerobics videos, walking to music, dance, boxing, high and low intensity interval training, whatever takes your fancy.
- Get busy with a project! Gardening, restoring old furniture or a little bit of DIY around the house is a surefire way to accumulate steps.
- Walk and talk - wander around whenever you are on a phone call. This could be in the hallway, the backyard or the driveway and is a great way to combine some social chit chat with much needed movement.
- Don’t underestimate the amount of walking you can do whilst cleaning - vacuuming, mopping, putting things in their right place will all contribute.
Some special considerations to keep your step count sustainable:
- Always wear supportive footwear, even when moving around the house.
- Be sure to include some calf, hamstring and glute stretches at the end of each day so that you don’t get too tight and sore.
- If body aches or joint pain is getting you down, start super small and see if you can hit the same number of steps for a week (eg: 4,000 per day) without flaring up before gently increasing by 10% each week. Hitting 10,000 steps is not worth it if you feel sore for days afterwards!
Dwyer, T., Pezic, A., Sun, C., Cochrane, J., Venn, A., Srikanth, V., Jones, G., Shook, R., Sui, X., Ortaglia, A. and Blair, S., 2015. Objectively measured daily steps and subsequent long term all-cause mortality: the tasped prospective cohort study. PloS one, 10(11), p.e0141274.