There are 101 different gadgets on the market right now to tell you how many steps you’ve taken in any given day. Whether it’s sitting in an app, sitting on your wrist or wrapped around your ankle, tracking devices have become a pretty big thing as of late.
But, do you know where the recommendation of 10,000 steps per day came from? Turns out, it’s not very scientific…
In the 1960s, a pedometer called a Manpokei (translating to ‘10,000-steps-meter’) was developed by inventor and scientist Y. Hatano originally in China. It’s popularity, especially from the 1980s onwards, was due to his supported research linking 10,000 steps per day to the maintenance of a healthy body. This research compared the number of calories burned taking 10,000 steps with the daily average calorie consumption of an average person, with the result of either the maintenance of loss of weight. It also showed a reduction in blood pressure, increase cardiovascular fitness and reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI).
Since then, most governments, medical industries and health sectors promote this idea of 10,000 steps per day in order to maintain your health.
Pedometers are most often used as a motivation and tracking tool for inactive people looking to increase their level of physical activity. Studies have shown that when patients are provided with the step tracker, their physical activity increased, noting that the constant reminder was a powerful motivator.
What are some limitations of the 10,000 step recommendation?
Across the board, there are a few main criticisms of this universal target…
- Firstly, setting a target of 10,000 steps doesn’t take into account the mobility level of participants. For older, disabled or impaired persons, this number might be a lot lower and still be classes as a high-level activity for them. On the other hand, this number is extremely low for active children, athletes or highly active people. As a result, this measurement is only applicable and useful to certain groups of people.
- Secondly, 10,000 steps don’t take into account the speed, distance covered and incline of your daily activity. This can very easily substantially change the overall calories burned throughout the day. For example, 10,000 steps walked burns around 300 calories whereas running can burn between 500-700.
- This notion of 10,000 steps per day was also developed during a time where the average calorie intake for adults was a lot lower, 56% lower in fact. In the 70s the average American consumed 2,169 calories, compared to today when they’re consuming a whopping 3,770 per day. As a result, if a person was to follow the step count measurement, on top of that they would need to walk an additional 2 hours per day to reap the same results as the original research claimed.
Should you be following 10,000 step recommendation
Although there are limitations of the idea of a universal fitness recommendation, the idea is similar to the recommended glasses of water per day – having a benchmark is a useful guide.
For those people who have poor health, and diminishing physical activity, this benchmark is a great way to increase their fitness. Along with a clean diet, doctors often prescribe this as the first option for obese people wanting to shed weight safely and increase their daily calories burned without damaging on their joints.
What the 10,000 step recommendation can’t do for you
Walking 10,000 steps per day will increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day, but there’s only so much walking can do for you. In previous articles, we’ve discussed the 80/20 rule for losing weight. This means 80% of your weight loss will come from your diet, with 20% coming from your exercise regime. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t walk off a bad diet. Along with your daily step count, make sure you’re not wasting all that work and keep a clean and nutritious diet.
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