Are you considering making 10,000 steps your daily goal? Here are three reasons that may not be a good idea and three reasons why it may be.
10,000 STEPS MAY BE TOO MANY
If you are just starting on a journey towards fitness, 10,000 steps is likely too big a jump from where you are now. The average American walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps every day. Even if you’re excited about this new exercise plan using your walking to get fit, that’s too big a jump.
It’s far better to start small and gradually work your way towards 10,000. I recommend you start by adding 500 to your current average step total and make a commitment to reach that goal every day for 30 days. Most days it’ll probably be easy, but you’ll have some challenging days too. After 30 days add another 500 and keep that pattern going.
THERE’S NO SCIENCE BEHIND 10,000 STEPS A DAY
This might be surprising, but the roots of walking 10,000 steps a day is from a Japanese marketing campaign. In 1965, a company made a pedometer and called it a Manpo-kei…which means “10,000 step meter.” That marketing campaign was so successful the 10,000 steps a day goal stuck around.
Plus, if you like lofty goals, 10,000 is a big round number to shoot for. But, it’s not a number based on medical science. In fact, that number is actually lower.
YOU DON’T NEED 10,000 STEPS A DAY
A massive research study starting in 2011 discovered the amount of steps needed for health benefits is actually 7,500. The research focused on almost 17,000 women between the ages of 62-101. The average age in this study was 72.
The sedentary group averaged 2,700 steps a day. Those walking 4,400 steps saw their risk of an earlier death drop 41%. Those early death rates progressively improved the more the women walked up to 7,5000 steps a day. At that point the rates stabilized. In other words, there was not much more benefit to walking 10,000 steps than 7,500.
Those are three reasons why 10,000 steps every day may not be a good idea for you. Here are three reasons why I walk more than 10,000 steps a day. Feel free to borrow any of these as reasons why you may want to aim for 10k a day.
10,000 STEPS CHANGED MY FITNESS PERSPECTIVE
Reaching 10,000 steps a day is not easy. It takes me about one hour and 40 minutes of walking each day to hit 10,000 steps. That’s a really long walk. I don’t have the time nor inclination to take a walk that long. That means I need to be moving a lot during the day to reach my goal.
Making 10,000 steps a day my goal required I find lots of opportunities throughout my day to get up and walk. Yes, I started parking in the back of the lot, but I had to do more than that. A lot more. I discovered pockets of time throughout my day for short walks. I realized I didn’t have to sit and wait. I didn’t have to sit and watch commercials. They became invitations to get up and move.
10,000 STEPS INCREASED MY DESIRE TO WALK EVEN MORE
The more I walked the more I was able to walk and that opened up a whole new world of fun. Walking is far more than exercise for me. It’s a big part of how I process and even enjoy life. I rarely even pay attention to the number on my Fitbit, yet most days I finish with 20,000 steps.
One of the big reasons we moved last year was both Ava and I wanted to live in a community that encouraged and provided opportunities for activity. And, we both take full advantage of that. The town center with restaurants, shopping, and special activities is a mile from our house. We walk there most nights and we love it! Ava also runs and I ride my bike.
I don’t believe this level of physical activity would be as much fun if I first hadn’t stretched myself with a goal of 10,000 steps a day. That goal increased my fitness capacity to do more and so I am!
10,000 STEPS A DAY IS HARD
This might sound opposite the previous reason, but walking 10,000 steps every day is not easy. In fact, walking 10,000 steps even just one time is not easy. It first requires making the decision to get up and move when sitting may be more desired. I was an average American at one point who only got between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day. I was perfectly comfortable sitting the rest of the time.
Going from 4,000 to 10,000 means I had to convert an hour of sitting to an hour of walking every day. That’s not easy. And, there are still days when my nice home office leather chair is inviting me to sit. And, I do love me some sitting in that chair. It’s comfortable and it’s easy. And, I like both of those.
Walking at least 10,000 steps a day challenges me to do something hard and reminds me that I am capable of doing something hard.
So, are you.
If you’re thinking about making 10,000 steps a day your goal, consider it carefully and start slow. To help I’ve created a new ten-minute daily podcast. I record it during the first part of my long morning walk. Ten-minutes a day is the perfect way to start a new fitness journey. It’s also the perfect way to get out the door for a longer walk.
The Walking is Fitness podcast is a way to hold each other accountable for keeping our commitment to fitness when it feels like we’d rather do something else. You can check out the latest episodes of the podcast HERE.
If you like what you here keep coming back for a new episode every day or better yet, follow Walking is Fitness wherever you get your favorite podcasts and a new episode will be waiting on your phone every morning.