Step it up!
Did you know….
The 10,000-step count originated as a marketing campaign built by a Japanese company to help sell their pedometers for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Since then, the 10,000 step count has shown significant health benefits and is recommended by many different health organisations. Some people can achieve this through incidental activity, but for most people with a sedentary job, to reach this goal requires a walk, run, or other form of step generating exercise.
Studies show that benefits of a higher step count include:
- Weight loss
- Improved glucose tolerance
- Reduction in blood pressure
From step count pedometer data for all ages, sedentary is considered less than 5,000, and highly active is over 12,500 steps per day. Step count differs greatly across age groups and achieving the 10,000 steps might not always be an appropriate goal for older people.
So, how many do I need to do?
The ideal number of steps based on age can be difficult to determine. A study out of the University of Massachusetts involving over 2000 people aged 38-50 years found there was a significant improvement in lowering the risk of premature death when achieving over 7000 steps a day. Those who achieved this goal were 50-70% less likely to die of any cause over the next decade.
Another study found that people aged in their 70’s reduced their risk of premature death by 40% if they had a step count average of 4,400 steps per day compared to those who were doing fewer than 2,700 steps.
How can I increase step count?
Increase your incidental physical activity:
- Parking further away
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking to public transport
- Work breaks to avoid prolonged sitting
Increase structured exercise:
- Walking for a certain duration of time
- Going for a run
- Taking a fitness class
The take home message…
The key message here is that generally more steps are better for you, however, achieving the 10,000 steps per day may not be realistic for all ages. If you are someone who constantly averages a low step count start by trying to increase your daily steps by 1-2000.
Just remember, small increases are more attainable in the long run and can help to reduce the holiday season weight gain!