This number is back by popular demand with the surge in popularity of smart pedometers or fitness trackers, like Fitbit, because the suggested goal for people starting out is 10,000 steps. But what makes 10,000 the right number?
The 10,000 step goal got its origin in Japan in 1965 and it wasn’t exactly a scientific or medical suggestion. It began as a slogan for a Japanese pedometer and was used to get people excited about walking. When the step craze hit the U.S. in the early ‘90s, the 10,000 step slogan became the recommendation for good health.
Walking 10,000 steps equates to about five miles a day, which is quite an increase for those who sit at a desk all day.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found the use of a pedometer leads to great increases in physical activity and weight loss and helps lower blood pressure. Although two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC, only 45 percent of Americans get enough physical activity. However, with the use of smart pedometers, they were shown to increase physical activity by just over 2,000 steps, or about one mile of walking per day.
For many, 10,000 steps may seem like a lot, especially since the average American walks about 5,900 steps. A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day.
Example: If you currently average 3000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3500 each day. Your week 2 goal is 4000 each day. Continue to increase each week and you should be averaging 10,000 steps by the end of 14 weeks. Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bed time. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised how many (or how few) steps you get in each day. There are many ways to increase your daily steps. Use your imagination and come up with your own list:
Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend
Walk the dog
Use the stairs instead of the elevator
Park farther from the store
Better yet, walk to the store
Get up to change the channel
Window shop – in cold weather walk inside the mall and window shop.
Plan a walking meeting
Walk over to visit a neighbor
Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding
Continue to track your daily steps and/or mileage; and keep notes on how you feel, how your body is improving, or other changes you are making to improve your health. If you are in very poor physical condition or at any point you feel that you are progressing too rapidly slow down a bit and try smaller increases. If you have any health concerns seek your physician’s advice prior to starting or changing your exercise routine. I have outlined the standard 10,000 step program because so many people ask about it. This is a good program to help get people motivated, or to get sedentary people moving. It is however my recommendation that most individuals fit 30 to 60 minutes of dedicated walking into their routine at least 3 to 4 days a week. You can start with as little as 10 minutes per day and gradually increase your walking routine. If you have any questions, please make an appointment with your podiatrist at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center, LLP located in Howell, NJ.