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Why 10,000 steps per day may not be enough to stay fit



  How many steps do you need per day?

Running can be a great exercise – but are 10,000 steps enough to keep you fit?


Angela Lang / CNET

We all know it's important to do sports every day, and our fitness trackers have long persuaded us to take 10,000 steps every day. But does that number really mean something to your health?

While this may be a helpful way to show your daily activity (since you technically do not have to spend an hour in the gym every day to be "active"), is this really the best way to measure activity?

Yes, the little everyday things you do to move more each day are significant. For example, if you decide to go to work, park further, or take the stairs, this is what counts for your activity, and it's great that our technology can help us recognize it. But are there real health benefits to doing 10,000 steps a day? And is how you really get it important? What about the other workouts that you do and that do not give you any further steps? Read on to find out what science and the experts have to say.

Why 10,000 Steps a Day Are Not the Same for Everyone

Since every person is different and has a unique lifestyle, a specific level of activity and different goals, it makes sense that not everyone needs the same amount of exercise day to be healthy. Part of it depends on the individual goals and health issues of each person. But are 10,000 steps per day really enough for the average person to be considered active and healthy? According to Professor Paul Gordon, a sports physiologist and chair of Baylor University's Department of Health, Human Performance and Recovery, this can be a great goal and starting point.

"The average person will walk between 3,000 and 6,000 steps during the day from commuting, shopping, etc. Adding 30 minutes of exercise (about 3,000 steps) will take us about 10,000 steps," said Gordan. He added that walking is more good for your health.

And if you are not just training (or even tracking your steps), how much training do you really need? According to the Ministry of Health and Human Services, you need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes of intense activity (such as running or cardio dance classes) per week. The DHHS also recommends that you do weight training twice a week (for example, lifting weights or exercises with your own body weight).

Remember, you may need to work more than the usual 150 minutes to reach your goal if you want to lose weight, lose weight, or achieve other specific fitness goals.

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Where did 10,000 steps come from each day?

The 10,000-step recommendation has been mainstream for some time, but have you ever wondered where it originally came from? While you can expect the recommendation to come from a medical source or from a state health authority, this is by no means the case.

At a recent event at the fitness industry, Movement by Michelob Ultra in Austin, sports physician Dr. Jordan Metzl suggests that the 10,000-step number is arbitrary. The number has roots that can be traced back to a Japanese hiking club that adopted the term as part of a marketing slogan.

An article in JAMA Internal Medicine also notes that there are "limited scientific foundations" to support the claim that 10,000 steps per day are necessary for health. However, the study found that participants who took more steps per day (over a four-year period) had a lower mortality rate than those who took fewer steps.

The Best Way to Track Your Daily Activities

If you have a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other smart watch, you know that these devices can do much more than track your steps. And while it's helpful to keep track of the total steps and distance traveled daily, can other factors be a more effective way to measure your activity? According to Gordan, steps are not the best measure of physical activity. "It does not take into account the intensity of the activity and is not effective for forms of non-weight-bearing activity (i.e., cycling)."

Since the steps can not take your intensity into account, Gordan recommends that you also use a heart rate monitor to measure exercise intensity. After all, technically, you could make 10,000 steps per day without really increasing your heart rate or keeping it going for long. "I would encourage doing weekly activities that increase the heart rate for a continuous period of time." He said that a well-balanced exercise routine could be like doing an activity where the heart rate increases four days a week (like walking or running fast) and going to yoga classes two days a week to work on strength and flexibility.

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Angela Lang / CNET

Is there a better activity goal than 10,000 steps per day?

If 10,000 steps a day seem like an arbitrary goal now, what good goals to work for when it comes to activity? One factor that can make a big difference to your health is not the number of steps you take, but the time you spend sitting down. "Studies have shown that sitting alone is unhealthy even if you have a lot of exercise every day, so diversifying your activities throughout the day is very helpful."

The Mayo Clinic recommends interrupting the time you spend on activities every day, even if you receive the recommended daily amount of exercise. Sitting too much is associated with a higher risk of metabolic problems and can affect your health.

In addition, a recent study found that people who sat for more than 13.5 hours a day were unable to derive part of the health benefits from one hour of exercise, as their overall activity level compared to time that they spent sitting down was so low.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be considered as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a disease or health goals.

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