Is the 10k-steps-a-day rule a myth?
Is the "10k steps a day" rule a myth? Time to find out if it works and why this recommendation came to exist.
This year, The Guardian reported that by 2020 over 500 million people will be wearing step-tracking devices. This phenomenal figure demonstrates the changing views towards improved health and longevity and the push towards gadgets. The ‘10k-steps-a-day rule’ has been thrown around the healthsphere in recent years - we’re all itching to hit that magic number every 24 hours. But is it all it’s cracked out to be? Let's look at the research and decide for ourselves.
10,000 steps: fact or fiction?
To truly understand the 10k rule, it’s necessary to look at its origins. The idea arose from a truly whimsical (yet highly successful) Japanese marketing campaign in the mid 1960s. Check out what new information you can get from fitness trackers.
The aim was to build up a hype for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Japanese company Yamasa designed the first ever wearable pedometer called ‘manpo-kei’, meaning ‘10,000 step metre’. There was no research behind this figure - the company merely chose the figure as indicative to a healthy lifestyle. 10/10 for ingenuity and capital gain. 0/10 for background science and research.
According to Professor Catrine Tudor-Locke, who wrote a paper discussing the media’s reporting of the 10K phenomenon, the origins of the 10k-steps-a-day trend is traced to Japanese running clubs and a business slogan. Yet again, clarifying exactly zero science behind the concept.
So if walking is good for us, why is the 10k-steps-a-day necessarily flawed? Firstly, the sample group. This idea was first introduced in the 1960s, in Japan. It’s now 2019 and many of our eating habits have changed. In the 60s, the Japanese population ate a less calorific diet, with less animal fats. With fewer people driving, they were also likely to walk far more than they do today. The availability of transport has since improved significantly since the 1960s, giving even the most health-conscious less opportunities to get physical.
The benefits of walking are bountiful: increased bone density, obesity, improved cardio health, mental wellbeing and all-round fitness are just a few of them. Still, 10,000-steps-a-day can be unachievable for some - and somewhat misleading to others.
There’s so much research highlighting how even gentle exercise such as daily brisk walks have improved the overall health of millions. But no matter how hard we try, somedays our work/life balance hinders us from reaching that 10k-a-day goal. Setting your own personal guide or baseline of how many steps-per-day is achievable allows you to set your own goals and not feel let down when you can’t reach that much-lauded 10K every day. Giving yourself a personal goal will also make it less likely for you to just give up on the idea of walking more all together.
How many steps should we be doing a day?
A moderate walker can walk about 100-steps-per-minute. In order to reach 10K-steps-a-day, you’d have to walk for 100 minutes. To many working in offices or jobs that don’t require a lot of movement, this can be unachievable and off putting.
It’s clear that 10,000 steps isn’t necessarily the concrete number we all thought it was, just a good concept aimed at clever monetary gain. However, if we eradicate the figure of 10,000, the idea itself is excellent - some exercise is better than none, you just don’t need to be stressed out by all those zeros to get results. Be active doing what you love and results will come.