How many steps a day? You’ve probably heard that you should walk 10,000 steps per day to reach your weight loss goals. It is a nice round number that equals about five miles and you can find it as a daily target goal from most health organization. Did you ever wonder where that number comes from?

The origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren’t exactly scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed under the name “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter,” said Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. The idea resonated with people, and gained popularity with Japanese walking groups, Tudor-Locke said. Later, some studies confirmed that people who take 10,000 steps have lower blood pressure, more stable glucose levels and better moods. That’s how the number quickly caught on.

Does that mean that in order to reach your health goals you must walk 10K steps every day? Of course not. 10k is a very large number and for people who have a sedentary job, it can be very difficult to reach. Start where you are and find ways to challenge yourself to increase your daily step goals, e.g. take the stairs, park your car further away, and so on. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. To meet that recommendation, you would only need to walk about 7K – 8K steps a day. If you are in the 5k range right now, add a daily brisk 30-minute walk and you will hit the recommended number.

One point to consider is that lots for pedometers don’t pick up on exercises like biking or swimming. Furthermore, recent research on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) suggests that sprinting for a short burst of time (even only for 60 secs) may have similar benefits to walking for an extended period time. This means that if you can’t get your steps in, try to get your heart rate up with more intensive exercises. Send me a message if you need ideas for an efficient HIIT workout.

10K isn’t the magic number, but if you need motivation to get moving, it’s a great target. Don’t get encouraged if you can’t reach it every day, but strive to increase your daily step goal overtime. Once you move more, you’ll feel and look better, and walking that extra mile will be your new life-style. Promise! 🙂