Why 10,000 Steps Might Be The Best Preventative Health Care

Exercise may be one of the best preventative health care efforts you can make. You may have heard of 10,000 step programs. The goal is to increase light and moderate activity throughout the day.

The Center for Disease Control recommends daily physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle and preventative health care. Moderate physical activity like walking helps with weight management, blood sugar regulation, and circulation.

Why 10,000 Steps?

In the 1960’s a Japanese doctor popularized Manpo-Kei or the 10,000 step goal. The name means “”man” (10,000), “po” (steps) and “kei” (meter). The program used an early prototype of a pedometer or “step meter.” This program debuted around the same time as the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, according to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

While it is only approximate, 10,000 steps roughly correlates to 30-minutes of daily activity. The goal was to encourage sedentary office workers to be more active. At the time, the average step count was 4,000 so 10,000 steps more than doubled daily activity.

The popularity of fitness trackers like Fitbit brought 10,000 steps to a new population. However, some criticize it since it is a one-size-fits-all goal that doesn’t account for different ability levels and activity preferences.

What if I Don’t Want To Count Steps

The preventative medicine benefits come from the activity not the act of counting steps. Some people love the challenge or meeting or exceeding a target number. Others find counting steps kills the joy of activity for them. You can benefit from the added activity without counting steps.

A study at Sheffield Hallam University found that brisk short walks were at least as healthy as meeting a 10,000 step goal. Participants took three brisk 10 minutes daily. They found it easier to meet their daily goal in comparison to the 10,000 step group and averaged more moderate intensity activity each day.

How to Increase Your Activity and Achieve 10,000 Steps

  • Think beyond steps — while 10,000 step programs focus on walking the real goal is to increase physical activity. That activity doesn’t have to be walking and doesn’t need to exclude people who don’t walk.
  • Play a game or make a game of it. The American Heart Association reported that during the Pokemon Go craze, players were twice as likely to meet or exceed the recommended 10,000 daily steps. If you are tired of Pokemon Go, consider gamifying your activity in another way.
  • Look for ways to add a little effort and movement. Consider taking the stairs rather than the elevator (up or down), parking at the far end of the lot, using the bathroom farthest away from your desk, or finding other ways to add a little extra movement.

Before starting a new fitness program, be sure to see your doctor. If you are looking for a primary care provider in Dallas contact Baylor Scott & White MedProvider.