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Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Is 10,000 the magic number?

I was out for dinner the other night and overheard someone say: “I’m only up to 6.000 steps today, I’ll need to go for a walk to hit 10,000”.
 
The sentence was a joy to hear but not so much the anxiety and stress in the person’s voice when saying it. It felt like it was some life or death rule that she must complete every day, well maybe not that extreme but you get the picture. 
 
When it comes to tracking steps, I enjoy scrolling on my watch to see what I’ve hit and have a plan in my head to see how I’m going to reach my target. I won’t get too upset if I don’t make it. 
 
Target
 
There are some days I’ll hit 20,000 steps, other days it could be 8,000, it all depends what I’m doing that day. 
 
Yes, I do aim to hit the 10,000 steps but sometimes I’ll fall short.
 
10,000 seems to be the magic number but where did it come from? The 10,000 rule didn’t come from a well-researched paper it originated as Japan were preparing to host the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Their focus was to improve the fitness of the general population. 
 
Marketing campaign
 
The company Yamasa designed the world’s first wearable step-counter, a device called a ‘manpo-kei’, which translates as “10,000-step meter2”. It took off and soon people all over the world were adopting this rule developed solely as a marketing campaign. 
 
Research has since been carried out on the 10,000 steps and has proved that it does help increase overall fitness and health.
 
The question you have to ask yourself is what does 10,000 steps mean to you? Does it scare you? Are you physically able or would you have that done before lunch time? 
 
Concerns
 
For those who are chronically ill, have type 2 diabetes, or older individuals who are used to a more sedentary lifestyle, there are now concerns that making a rapid jump to 10,000 steps a day could have adverse consequences.
 
For others, the milestone may seem intimidating and can derail intentions to increase daily physical activity. Other research suggests that getting 6,000–8,000 steps can be a preventative zone against cardiovascular disease and for people who have elevated risk factors to begin with. 
 
Intensity
 
The other talking point about the 10,000 steps is the intensity of the exercise. Would you benefit more from less steps while doing a light jog or brisk walk rather than hitting your target of 10,000 steps pounding around the house?
 
Again this depends on the person and their current health. My advice would be to have a realistic target and stick to it for a week then slowly start to build on it. You could increase the number of steps or the intensity in which you reach your current target. 
 
Also, get as many steps as you can while outside. A walk or light jog first thing in the morning can have more benefits that just your step count. 
 
I have a daily routine where I get up, head out for a walk while listening to some audio. I normally hit around the 2,000 steps mark and it helps set me up for the day. 
 
If I’m sitting for long periods of time or working on a project and start to feel tight or even frustrated, I get up and go for a walk. It’s as simple as listening to my body.
 
Keeping physically active is always a good thing. If you have a target that works for you then keep going but don’t be afraid to chance it up once in a while. 

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