Monday, September 20, 2021

What Is The Optimum Number Of Steps Needed Each Day?

It's funny that the idea of walking 10,000 steps per day originated as a marketing ploy by a company in Japan who needed a way of marketing their pedometer.  Over the past few years, it become to go to marketing for many walking programs.  I have at least three DVD's labeled with a certain number of steps covered if one completes it.  I tried using a pedometer but I kept loosing it and gave up on monitoring the steps I took everyday.

Recently, there have been some studies done on the effectiveness of 10,000 steps per day.  According to the CDC, most adults need to aim for this number per day since walking is considered a low impact exercise of moderate intensity and it has few risks.  The accepted conversion rate is 2000 steps per mile so 10,000 steps equals around 5 miles. Unfortunately, most Americans only walk 3,000 to 4,000 steps which is considered sedentary and doesn't provide enough movement.

Although walking may not seem like it provides many benefits, it actually does.  It improves muscle strength, range of motion, blood flow, flexibility, balance, joint stiffness, sleep, mood, and breathing.  To experience the most benefits from walking, one needs to take at least 5,000 or more steps per day.  In fact, one study from last year, found that if a person takes 8,000 compared to 4000 steps per day, they decreased their chance of dying from any cause by 51%.  If a person increases the number of steps per day to 12,000 per day, the chance of dying drops by 65%.

Another recent study indicated that any number of steps over 4000 helps a person's level of fitness. For instance, older women who consistently walk 4,400 steps per day have lower death rates than those who only walk 2,700 steps per day.  In addition, the range of 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day provided the maximum benefits for most people. 

It is important to remember that not all steps are created equal. If a person wants the best situation for exercise, think about making some of it going up hill.  When a person walks up hill, it activates three times more muscle fibers than walking on a flat surface thus improving the workout. Now if you happen to live in a flat area where its hard to go up hill, there are other ways to accomplish it.  Think about climbing stairs as most towns have buildings with multistory buildings or you might be lucky to live in a two or three story home with steps you can run up and down.

You could also use a stool or an exercise step to step up and down for a set period of time or maybe you want to walk quickly around the block multiple times or add ankle or wrist weights so you have to work harder. If you focus on an object in the distance as you walk, it can increase your walking speed by up to 23%. Or you could try Nordic walking with requires you to use poles as you walk which helps work out the upper and lower body.  This explains the number of people I saw using poles as they walked in Sweden and Iceland.

The nice thing is that the steps do not have to be done all in one go.  It is possible to spread them throughout the day. If you work in a multistory building, take the steps up to the floor you work on.  If you are say on the 35th floor and are a bit out of shape, take the elevator up to say the 32nd floor and walk up the rest of the way. As it becomes easier, add a few floors to climb the stairs and continue.  At lunch, get away from your desk and walk around with some friends.  

At work, think about taking breaks from sitting and walk to a bathroom or conference room that is located on the other side of the building or park at the back end of the parking lot so you have to walk further. If you work downtown, park at a lot that is further from your building or get off one or two stops before the one you need. 

The bottom line, is to aim for at least 7,000 steps per day but if you manage 10,000 to 12,000 steps each day, you are more likely to lose weight.  In other words, keep moving.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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