Whether it is a complete lack of self discipline (perhaps a topic for a different blog), a lack of energy, a lack of time, or perhaps a bit of all three- it is pure and simple a struggle.
As a person who likes numbers, I like to track my steps each day. However, I very consistently fail to achieve the “recommended” 10 thousand steps each day. As a mother of three boys who works full time in an office, I am lucky to consistently get six thousand steps in each day. I suspect I am not alone in this plight.
- “Why ten thousand steps anyway?
- And who says so?”
Skeptical and curious by nature, I set about to answer these questions. I was expecting to find some scientific peer reviewed studies that identified the magic number of 10,000 steps as the miracle needed to save us from disease and early death along with it being the key to our daily happiness.
In fact, do you know from where this 10 thousand step idea originates? And how far it dates back? No?
Well let me tell you. You may be surprised, even shocked to know it dates back to 1965, and originates from a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer called the Manpo-kei (translates the ten thousand step meter) developed by the Yamasa Clock company. It appears that somewhere along the way it became accepted, even adopted in mainstream society(rather insidiously it seems) that this was indeed “the benchmark.”
- Sedentary women averaged 2,700 steps a day.
- Women who averaged 4,400 daily steps had a 41% reduction in mortality.
- Mortality rates progressively improved before leveling off at approximately 7,500 steps per day.
The ten thousand step idea has been studied and does demonstrate benefits in our health and wellbeing. But in my opinion, it also sets people up for failure and defeat when it comes to exercise. We must establish guidelines that are achievable and beneficial to our health.
Research also shows that even low-intensity exercise can improve your health – though moderate-intensity exercise improves it to a greater extent.
This means your steps throughout the day can contribute to your 150 minutes of target activity. For some of us, counting steps is a more convenient and easier way to measure our physical activity, especially when and if we are unable to dedicate a block of our day to focused exercise.
For those of us who sit eight or more hours each day, we have a 59% increased risk of death compared to those sitting less than four hours per day. However, studies show 60-75 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity can eliminate this risk. A brisk walk each day will help mitigate the negative health effects of sitting for long periods for us office workers.
- Improved sleep
- Increase interest in sex
- Improved endurance
- Stress relief
- Improved mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reduced fatigue with increased mental alertness
- Weight loss
- Reduced cholesterol
- Improved sugar metabolism
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park further away from the entrance
- Get off the bus one stop earlier
- Make more trips when bringing in groceries from the car
- Go for a short walk at lunch or during your coffee break
Before I had children, I worked out daily for usually an hour. Since I have had children, this has been very difficult if not impossible for me to achieve. I used to think if I can’t do an hour of exercise what is the point? This thinking is misguided and wrong! I have since learned to sneak it in where I can even if it is only 15 minutes.
- Lee I, Shiroma EJ, Kamada M, Bassett DR, Matthews CE, Buring JE. Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(8):1105–1112. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0899
- Calechman, S. (2019, July 11). 10,000 steps a day - or fewer? Harvard Health. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10000-steps-a-day-or-fewer-2019071117305
- Ekelund, U., Steene-Johannessen, J., Brown, W. J., Fagerland, M. W., Owen, N., Powell, K. E., Bauman, A., & Lee, I.-M. (2016). Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the Detrimental Association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. The Lancet, 388(10051), 1302–1310. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(16)30370-1
- Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 8(2), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a