Step this way to a healthier lifestyle
Fitbit? JawboneUP? Smart Phone? Whatever device you have, it’s now easier than ever to track your walking and activity levels. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that 10,000 is the magic number of steps that we should all be aiming to walk daily.
The NHS and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have endorsed guidelines that support walking 10,000 steps per day as a way of achieving better health. Increasing activity levels can:
- Improve general fitness
- Reduce risk of heart disease and type II diabetes
- Help with weight loss
- Boost circulation
- Reduce stress
- Improve mood and wellbeing
So there are lots of good reasons to get moving. But where did 10,000 come from?
The concept of walking 10,000 steps a day was coined in Japan during Olympic-fever in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Games. Pedometers became the must-have gadget, and one company launched a product called manpo-kei, meaning ‘10,000 step measure’. It seemed to be a memorable and achievable figure, and seems to have stuck with international health recommendations.
10,000 steps may sound a lot to some, but the benefits of walking speak for themselves:
- 10,000 steps = approximately 5 miles
- Walking 10,000 steps burns between 300-600 calories depending on weight, fitness and pace
- Walking maintains joint flexibility and muscle strength
- It’s free!
Walking can be a great exercise to start with if you’re recovering from a musculoskeletal injury such as knee or low back pain, as it is relatively low impact.
Even if you are already pretty active, it’s worth tracking your activity levels and trying to achieve 10,000 steps – you may be surprised at your results. Sitting for too long has been proven to be bad for your health, so even if you’re a regular gym-goer, being sedentary for several hours during the day can still put you at higher risk of developing certain health problems. Yes, exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle, but unfortunately it doesn’t counter all of the effects of prolonged sitting. Walking improves circulation, which delivers blood to cells throughout your body, giving you an oxygen burst – perfect for keeping you alert during afternoon meetings or in preparation for your post-work gym class.
And remember that you can bank points for doing your supermarket shop, walking round Brent Cross or taking the dog for a walk. Of course, the challenge is not to be tempted to reward yourself for your activity levels with a calorific treat otherwise you undo all of that good work!
Tips for walking:
- Make sure your shoes fit well and have good support, especially for the arches of your feet
- Be aware of your posture – keep your shoulders back, head up and engage your core muscles to help support your back
- Aim to increase your steps by 500/week until your fitness levels improve and allow you to reach that 10,000 goal
- As your fitness improves, challenge yourself by walking faster or uphill
- Track your walking on a Fitbit, pedometer or Smartphone and use this data to motivate you and compare your results with family and friends – a little healthy competition is always a good motivator!
So with all of that in mind, we really don’t have any excuses!
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