It has become almost common knowledge that the average person should take 10,000 steps a day thanks to the influx of tracking devices on the market. The default goal for most tracking devices is 10,000 steps, but where did that number come from? Is there a medical reason to embrace that number or is an arbitrary goal that just has been accepted?
The history of 10,000 steps actually goes back to Japan in the 1960s. The 1964 Olympics were taking place in Tokyo, which caused the locals to take a deeper concern for their health. Soon after the first pedometer named the man-po-kei was created. Man-po-kei stands for man=10,000, po=step and kei=meter or gauge. It turns out 10,000 is a very favorable number in the Japanese culture and no real medical science informed the number.
Today, 10,000 steps has become adopted globally partly because it is a nice round number and because generally walking 10,000 steps burns 2,000-3,500 extra calories every week. Typically a pound of body fat equals 3,500, therefore walking 10,000 steps, in theory, would help you lose a pound a week. The problem is 10,000 is just too simplistic of a figure and only works on paper. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. While 10,000 steps is a good goal, especially since the average person only gets about 3,000 steps a day, it does not guarantee good health and weight loss. You cannot out-walk an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.
Without a doubt, there are great health benefits to increasing your activity through walking and other low-intensity activities, even if they don’t lead to weight loss. But it is important to understand, although 10,000 steps is an easy number to remember and is a great goal to get people moving, it is the not the magic number to being fit and healthy. An overall healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet is the best way to ensure good health.
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