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Watch your step: why the 10,000 daily goal is built on bad science

Watch your step: why the 10,000 daily goal is built on bad science

In recent years, the 10,000-steps-a-day regime has become entrenched in popular culture. You can barely walk down the street without someone stomping past you wearing a FitBit; when Jeremy Hunt was health secretary, he was often pictured with his poking out from his shirtsleeves.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/03/watch-your-step-why-the-10000-daily-goal-is-built-on-bad-science

theguardian.com

10,000-steps-a-day goal

An entire industry has been built on the claim that 10,000 steps a day are necessary to be healthy.

But 10,000 steps is a random number that was used in a Japanese marketing campaign in the mid-60s for the world's first wearable step-counter. They felt that the number was indicative of an active lifestyle.

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The potential benefits

A research team investigated the potential benefits of taking 10,000 steps/day. They concluded that the average Japanese person could decrease their risk of coronary artery disease if they increased their daily step count from 3,500 steps to 10,000.

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Concerns with 10,000 steps

For those who are chronically ill, have type 2 diabetes, or older individuals who are less active, there are concerns that making a rapid jump to 10,000 steps a day could have negative consequences. 

Some studies suggest that 6,000 to 8,000 steps could be the lower boundary to aim for, while 6,000 steps and above can protect against cardiovascular disease.

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How much is good for us

Exercise scientists are trying to find out is 15,000 or 18,000 steps have long-term benefits over the 10,000 benchmark.

The intensity of exercise should also be taken into account. Increasing your heart rate may be more important than the exact number of steps taken.

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