10,000 steps a day – does it add up?

Reaching 10,000 steps a day became a mainstream fitness goal with the rise of as wearable fitness trackers. But do we really need to hit this magic number?

The origins of the 10,000 step goal dates back to 1965, to a Japanese devise called Manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000 steps meter.”

Walking is a simple exercise with many proven health benefits, from maintaining or losing weight to improving joint healthOpens a new window. People who sit a lot during the day may find it more difficult to reach 10,000 steps than someone who is always on their feet. Adding physical activity to your normal day, though, can be good for you, regardless of the number on your fitness tracker.

While the “magic number” of 10,000 steps may just be a clever marketing toolOpens a new window, the important thing to remember is that any amount of movement is good.

“Some activity is better than nothing!” explains Wendy Pernerewski, health coach educator at WellSpark Health. “Our bodies were made to move, so every little step we take is just good for us, body and mind.

Benefits of walking
Going for a walk every day can improve your mental wellbeingOpens a new window. Those who practice regular exercise may have a 30% less risk of becoming depressedOpens a new window and may also notice reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Exercise can also improve the quality of your sleep.

Older folks who enjoy a nice walk get some added benefits. They may see improvements in their cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speed. Walking can even reduce the risk of developing dementiaOpens a new window. Pernerewski adds that walking after a meal can also help with digestion.

A new studyOpens a new window, led by Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, found that older women who walk 4,400 steps a day have a 41% less risk of premature mortality, compared to those who walk 2,500 steps or less a day.

Steps add up – by the day and by the week
The Physical Activity Guidelines for AmericansOpens a new window suggest 150 minutes per week of exercise, which can include brisk walking. The guidelines recommend spreading those minutes throughout the week. So, you could do 30-minute sessions five days a week or multiple 10-minute sessions each day.

You’d rather measure steps than time? Not to worry. “If getting 10,000 steps a day seems daunting, break it up into smaller bouts of movement each day,” says Pernerewski. She offered these tricks to help you rack up steps:

  • Start your day with a quick 10-15-minute walk to get the blood moving and kinks out of the muscles and joints.
  • Try to take a quick walk every hour or so.
  • Park far away and take stairs whenever possible for extra steps.
  • Have a bunch of conference calls? Put on your headset so you can walk and talk.
  • Drink plenty of water so you have to keep getting up to go the bathroom.
  • Put on some tunes and have a dance party.

Whether you walk 10,000 steps or 4,000, the key is to make sustainable exercise part of your daily life. “There are so many ways to get your steps in every day,” says Pernerewski. “Stay motivated by making it less like a chore and more fun.  Before long, you will be feeling all the amazing benefits of consistently moving your body.”

For more information

Why Living a Sedentary Lifestyle Might be Putting your Health at Risk

Not Getting Enough Physical Activity is a Major Cause of Chronic Disease that Comes with High Health and Financial Costs

It’s easy to fall victim to a sedentary lifestyle when much of your daily activities involve little to no physical effort on your part. Think about how much sitting you do in a day: sitting at the breakfast table, sitting for your commute to work, sitting at your desk job for eight hours and then sitting on the couch at the end of a long work day to relax. That’s a lot of sitting. What we aren’t thinking about in these moments is how unhealthy all this inactivity is for us.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four adults aren’t moving enough. Thanks in part to the convenience of modern technology and an increase number of sedentary jobs, we’re becoming more inactive than ever. The American Heart Association found that only 20% of the current workforce have physically active jobs. Plus, sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since 1950. Sedentary lifestyles are becoming increasingly widespread and a serious health issue. So much sitting around can lead to many health risks.

How does leading an inactive lifestyle put your health at risk?
Living an inactive lifestyle affects your body in several ways including weight gain, bone loss, negative impact on your mental health, poor immune support and blood circulation. Most importantly, physical inactivity or lack of exercise is one of the major causes of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke or diabetes. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six in ten adults in the US have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have two or more. Not getting enough physical activity comes with high health and financial costs. Chronic diseases are conditions that generally require ongoing medical attention making them the leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs. When you live an inactive lifestyle, you raise your risk for the following:

  • Heart diseases including heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

How to Start Moving Towards an Active Lifestyle?
If you are not getting enough physical activity in your day, it’s not too late to change and significantly reduce your risk of chronic health conditions and premature death. Make a conscious effort. Whether you are stuck behind a desk all day or just struggling to get motivated for exercise, here are just a few ways to help you get moving at work and during your leisure time.

Increase Your Physical Activity at Home and at Work
If you have been inactive, start off slow and add more exercise gradually. If you have a health condition, we recommend you speak to your doctor before you start any new physical activities. Try not to feel overwhelmed. Remind yourself that getting some exercise is always better than getting none. Work to reach a goal or use the CDC recommended amount of exercise guidelines.Ways to be more active at work:

  • Go for a walk in the parking lot or around your office complex. Ask a co-worker to join you that shares your passion to get fit for additional support.  
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Stand up periodically while at your desk. Find out if your company will invest in a stand-up desk that allows you to adjust the height, so you sit or stand throughout the day.
  • Get up from your chair and move around your office building
  • During you break or lunch hour, commit to getting out of the office to walk around or run errands allowing you to be active.
  • Instead of sending an email or calling a co-worker, walk to their office and have a face-to-face chat.

Ways to be more active at home:

  • Stretch during commercial breaks
  • Go for a walk or light run in your neighborhood
  • Invest in some less exercise equipment such as hand weights, exercise mats, yoga balls and stretch bands to start your own workout.
  • Try a physical activity tracker. If you’re already using WellSpark Health to track your daily movements then you know how helpful they are to boost your motivation to work out which in turn makes you healthier.
  • Household chores, gardening and yardwork can also help with physical activity. Try doing them at a vigorous pace.

These are just some ways you can incorporate more physical activities in your daily routine. There are many ways to get exercise but only you can determine what method works best for you. Keep reminding yourself that getting some exercise is always better than getting none.  

Start Feeling the Benefits of Physical Activity
Make physical activity a priority. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine will improve your quality of life in addition to lowering your risk of chronic diseases.  Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term benefits.  You’ll start to feel better and have a healthier state of mind.

  • Manage and lose weight
  • Reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Lift your mood and get better sleep
  • Increase your ability to perform everyday activities
  • Improve your cognitive thinking skill

To learn more tips and information, contact WellSpark Health at 1-877-224-7350 or [email protected].

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