10,000 seems to be the magic number when it comes to steps! Its seen in many health and wellness challenges including my own 4:7:3, but why 10,000? Why steps? Read on to find out why walking is extremely good for you an whether 10,000 really is a magic number.
The Benefits of Walking
1. It Burns Calories - now how many calories it burns depends on a number of things - your weight, the distance you travel, how fast you get those trotters moving and what terrain you are walking on just to name a few. But there is no doubt tat keeping up my 10,000 steps a day has really really upped my calories expenditure. I like to think of myself as having an active job. The truth is although I spend a lot of time on my feet I don't actually move all that much! Before giving myself a reality health check I would be out all day and only achieve 3000 steps, get home and flop on the sofa. Now i finish those steps before i do anything else earning me anything from an extra 500 to 1000 calories! It has definitely helped me keep my weight in check as well as making me feel so much better through the following other benefits.....
2. It Lubricates Joints - walking helps to improve our joint health by getting them moving! Movement helps to swish that synovial fluid around those joint surfaces which helps to keep them healthy. Too many of us at a young age aren't exercising our joints enough. If we want to be able to utilise those joints when we are older then we must use them - Use it or lose it!
3. It can help to lower blood sugar levels - Going for a 15 minutes walk after eating can really help to low blood sugar levels quickly without placing unnecessary pressure on the body. By making a short walk after each meal a habit it can help you get your steps in each day. Plus there is the added benefit of stacking the walking habit with a daily task which makes it more likely to happen!
4. Boosts Immune Function - During lockdown we have been encouraged to head outside for daily exercise of walking, jogging or cycling. Low impact steady state exercise has been shown to boost our immunity. Not only are we out in the fresh air, clearing out our respiratory system but also creating more immune boosting cells. A small study found that those who walked between 30 and 45 minutes a day had 43% less sick days than more sedentary folk!
5. Mood and Energy Boosting - Walking increases oxygen levels to the brain. It also increases cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels which are all hormones which increase our energy levels. Studies have also shown that walking has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to boost self esteem and reduce social withdrawal.
6. Its extremely easy and very Social - You can walk anywhere. No equipment is necessary! If your at home you may not even need footwear as long as you are careful. Its a great way to spend time with family and friends while getting you daily dose of exercise and all the other health benefits listed above.
So why 10,000 steps?
10,000 steps equates to approximately 5 miles of walking for the average person. It isn't a magic number but was first popularised in Japan by a marketing campaign conducted shortly before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. A company sold a pedometer called the Manpo-kei: (“man” - 10,000, “po” - steps and “kei” - meter). It was off the back of the success of this campaign that the '10,000 steps' mantra was born.
Now, for the very sedentary 10,000 steps can be very daunting. For the 4:7:3 Wellness Challenge I have been known to scale the number of steps for certain members. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly I want to people to feel successful - to actually achieve their goals and not be disheartened by not reaching them. For some 10,000 is a big number to reach whether its due to physical restrictions, family commitments or just general inactivity. As with all goals, they need to be achievable, but what is the best number of steps to improve overall health?
Research has found that 7500 steps a day provides us with the most health benefits, extra steps after this don't add a huge amount of benefit and can be come a chore. BUT as discussed above, walking burns calories. By walking 10,000 steps a day you can burn between 2000 and 3500 calories extra a week. A pound of fat equates to 3500 calories so 10,000 steps a day can help you to lose a pound of fat a week.
So if weight loss is your goal walking can definitely help you. But even if it isn't don't you think that the health benefits listed above are a good enough reason to get those feet moving?