We've all heard the recommendation to walk 10,000 steps per day. It's a simple formula that can be easily applied to your daily life and implemented with clients outside the gym.
But the truth is that walking 10,000 steps each day gives you so much more than just a number on your pedometer. The real value of 10,000 steps comes down to creating the habit of regular daily movement, ideally outdoors.
In this article, you will learn about the benefits of walking 10k steps per day as well as tips on how to fit more steps into your daily life.
Where did the 10k steps "rule" come from?
When a Japanese doctor told an engineer how concerned he was with the decreasing amount of physical activity in the 1960’s, and the solution was that everyone should take 10,000 steps each day, the engineer created the first pedometer, called the Manpo-kei ten thousand step meter. This was the start of the 10,000 step per day craze.
The 10,000 steps per day rule quickly spread around the world and has become popularized by fitness experts and health professionals for its benefits to overall health. With this has come an explosion in wearable technology to help people keep track of their steps, such as FitBit, Apple Watch and many others.
It’s important to note that there is no scientific proof that exactly 10,000 steps is necessary for good health. In fact, some studies have shown that walking more than 15,000 steps per day may not provide additional health benefits over walking 5500–8000 steps.
Whatever the number, there is no disputing that regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke, it has also been shown to help with weight control, diabetes prevention, depression treatment and more.
Why aim for 10k steps daily?
10,000 steps is a good goal to aim for if you or your clients have decided that increasing daily movement is a priority. It's the equivalent of about five miles, which is a pretty reasonable distance to aim for if you're trying to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine.
The health benefits of walking
Walking is a great way to get in shape and stay healthy. It's easy to do, it doesn't require any special equipment or training, and you can do it almost anywhere.
Walking has many benefits for your body:
- Walking helps maintain good cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart muscle and improving blood circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing high cholesterol levels (which can lead to heart disease).
- Regular walking can strengthen bones by helping them absorb minerals like calcium better—this leads to stronger bones that are less likely to break when you fall or experience other injuries.
- Walking can reduce stress and improve your mood. It also helps you sleep better, which is important because lack of sleep has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.
Walking can be done with family or friends.
Walking with family and friends can be a great way to improve fitness and strengthen social connections. Walking is safe for people of all ages and abilities, making it a great option for families looking for ways to stay active together.
And because most people have access to sidewalks near their homes and workplaces, there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and put one foot in front of another without having to travel far from home base!
If you don't have anyone to walk with, consider joining an adult walking group or a running club near your home. You could even start your own walking group!
Walking is good for your heart, bones and joints.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help you maintain good bone density. It's also great for your heart and lungs, as it helps build up endurance and strength.
Walking is a great way to encourage blood flow and reduce joint pain, which can be especially helpful for people who suffer from arthritis.
Walking is an easy way to get in more activity throughout the day.
Walking is an easy way to get in more activity throughout the day. Whether you're walking the dog or taking a stroll around the neighborhood, walking can be done anywhere, at any time. It's also convenient and inexpensive—you don't need any special equipment or clothing to walk; all you need is a pair of shoes.
How to walk 10k steps every day
Walking 10k steps is a great goal to aim for, but like anything, you'll need to pr, but it can be difficult to remember to do it every day.
Here are some tips for making walking a daily habit:
- Go on a 10-15 minute walk after each of your meals (this will also help with blood sugar regulation).
- Schedule a walk after the work day to decompress.
- Begin your day with a walk and get the added benefits of morning sunshine on your eyes.
- Take the stairs instead of riding elevators whenever possible; this also helps burn extra calories through Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis throughout the day!
- Walk when going somewhere instead of driving/taking public transportation - even if only part way there; this will help build up those 10k steps quickly over time.
Step counting is an easy, low barrier way to track movement that is doable for anyone which can be used to establish a daily walking habit.
Should you track your steps?
Tracking steps can help you or your clients create awareness of your movement or lack thereof, providing an objective measure than can be motivating to create a daily walking habit.
Modern wearable pedometers use either GPS, accelerometers, or modern pendulums to track the number of steps taken on a given day. With all wearable devices, accuracy should be taken into account. Pedometers are usually ~5-10% off, but as long as you are using the same device you can track trends over time.
Downsides of tracking steps include when you find yourself moving for a score and are solely motivated by your step count. This can distract from the true benefits and enjoyment of walking and lead you to become a prisoner of your pedometer.
If you do implement tracking for yourself or your clients, be sure to set a clear intention, prescription, and strategy, and measure success over a specific time period.
In the LearnRx Class, Wearables: Reliance to Self-Regulation, Carl Hardwick provides an actionable roadmap for using wearables to track steps, sleep, heart rate and HRV.
Walking is a great way to get more activity into your day and can be done anywhere. It's also an easy way for people who have trouble exercising or are new to being active to start improving their health.
Whether you choose to track steps or not, we encourage coaches to help every client develop a daily habit of walking at least 30 minutes per day.