Health advocates recommend wearing pedometers and walking 10000 steps daily to improve health and fitness. Good walking shoes are the only fitness equipment needed.
You may have heard about fitness programs that recommend walking 10000 steps a day. Are they good? How do they work?
How far are 10000 steps?
The word mile derives from the Latin word for thousand because it was the distance the average Roman soldier covered while walking 1000 paces. A pace is two steps, one with each foot, so for the average person, 2000 steps is a mile. That makes 10000 steps about 5 miles for most people.
The programs that advocate wearing a pedometer and walking 10000 steps a day are essentially recommending walking 5 miles a day. That doesn’t mean you need to take a five mile walk every day. It means that the total amount you walk every day, including walking to the fridge for a snack, should add up to five miles.
Why 10000 Steps?
The Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research has conducted research on how much exercise we need for optimum health and fitness for over four decades. They find that 10000 steps a day are enough beyond what the average sedentary person takes to meet the surgeon general’s recommendation of 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity.
In the January 2004 issue of Sports Medicine, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke classifies people taking less than 5000 steps a day as sedentary. Taking 5000 to 7500 steps a day is typical for people with no sports activities and is classified as low active.
Taking 7500 to 10000 steps a day requires some walking, either on the job or in an exercise program, and is considered somewhat active. Dr. Tudor-Locke classifies those taking more than 10000 steps a day as active.
In the June 2004 issue of Preventative Medicine, Dr. Tudor-Locke also recommends that girls between the ages of 6 and 12 take 12000 steps a day. Boys in this age group should take 15000 steps a day.
Steps, Weight Control, and Body Fat
In Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise in 2004, D.L. Thompson, J. Rakow, and S.M. Perdue studied the effects of walking on a sample of 80 middle aged women. They classified the women taking less than 6000 steps a day as inactive, those taking 6000 to 10000 steps as somewhat active, and those taking more than 10000 steps a day as regularly active.
The study found a significant inverse correlation between the number of daily steps the women took and both their percentage body fat and body mass index. The women who walked more had a lower percentage body fat and a lower body mass index. They also found that the average body mass index for all the women who took at least 10000 steps a day was in the normal range.
In simple terms: more steps = less fat!
If you have not been previously active, start slowly. Don’t try to start at 10000 steps a day. Start at whatever level is comfortable for you, then gradually increase the number of steps you take each day until you are walking 10000 steps a day.
To control your weight and improve your health and fitness, you don’t need expensive fitness equipment. Just get a good comfortable pair of walking shoes and a pedometer. Put them on and start walking.