Have you heard the recommendation that you should take 10 000 steps a day? We thought it might be fun to know where this specific number came from and if this recommendation is really as good for your health as everyone keeps saying.
2400 years ago, the Greek doctor and a philosopher Hippocrates stated that walking is the best medicine. According to modern sports science, brisk walking is active walking at the pace of 6,5-8 km/h (4-5 mph) and increasing your heart rate to 120-140 beats per minute. By this definition it’s not the number of kilometres (or miles) covered but the intensity. The most important point is to walk regularly and to feel good afterwards. Brisk walking differs from regular walking because of the longer and quicker steps, as well as energetic arm movements.
Brisk walking and health impacts
Studies have found that brisk walking can increase a person’s resistance quite quickly by 10-30%. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, brisk walking can decrease the risk of heart diseases by 30%. In the long run it will lower your blood pressure, help to prevent cancer and even help boost your memory.
Brisk walking uses the same muscle groups as running, but the pressure on joints is lower. It is suitable for all age groups and even for those who have minor health issues.
Is there anything you should pay attention to when you go brisk walking? Yes, pay attention to your breathing. If you start panting, you’re going too fast.
So, what would be the most suitable distance for a moderate workout? Surely you’ve heard about the 10,000 step recommendation. The questions is, why 10,000 steps? This number actually originates from Japan in the 1960s, where the first modern pedometer was manufactured and sold. It was called manpo-kei, which translates “10,000 steps meter”. At the time, it was a marketing campaign that was well received by the public and has stuck with us ever since. In reality, 7,000-8,000 steps per day is sufficient.
If counting steps is not for you, you can comply with the World Health Organization’s recommendations by engaging in moderate physical activity for 150 minutes per week.
Half an hour daily walks should do
The average person takes around 3,000-5,000 steps per day, office workers usually manage to do even less. For a healthy lifestyle, this number has to be increased. If you walk 3 km (1.8 mi) in 30 minutes, it’s around 100 steps per minute and adds up to a total of 3000 steps. A half an hour walk is the perfect addition of steps for a person who takes around 5,000 steps per day. If you tend to take less than 5,000 steps per day (office workers) a half an hour walk is not sufficient and you should aim for at least a 45-minute brisk walk.
If you haven’t been physically active for some time but want to start brisk walking, it’s recommended to increase your “daily dosage” by 500 steps per week until you reach 7,000-8,000 steps. The average stride distance of an adult is 0,76 m (2.5 ft) from heel to heel, many people take shorter strides than this. So on average, 10,000 steps equal to around 7,5 km (4,7 mi).
Steps will be counted for you
The easiest way to count steps is to use a pedometer. It’s a tiny device that you can attach to your belt or waistband and it’ll do the work for you. Basic pedometers don’t cost much and you can get them from any sports shop. If you own a smartphone, you can download an app that counts your steps and tracks the distance, there are several free apps available.
Many wrist-based fitness trackers count steps as well. In addition to counting steps they collect other data about your health and activeness such as; heart rate, sleep quality, burned calories etc. Though, in comparison to pedometers, fitness trackers cost more.
Walking doesn’t cost you a thing
It costs nothing to go outside and walk for a half an hour, but it has a positive impact on your health and it can improve your mood. In fact, the hardest part is getting from your armchair to your front door. But don’t forget that every step counts! Happy walking.