Why 10,000 Steps A Day?

10,000 steps doesn’t really sound like a lot, but for most of us, our step count is much lower than we realise.  Most of us move around 3-5,000 steps a day, which is especially true of my job where I sit at a desk all day, getting up and moving when I want a cup of tea or water, the toilet or a snack from the machine in the foyer.  Before this challenge the most steps I would take would be walking to and from my car each day and a half hour walk with Roxy of a night.  People, everywhere are leading more and more sedentary lives, where walking is getting phased out for driving everywhere, playing on the street is being replaced by computer games and tv, socialising with friends in person is now being overtaken by Skype and FaceTime chats and social media sites.  I have heard the phrase “we should be moving the recommended 10,000 steps a day” so much but have never really known its origin or significance.

So where did this figure come from?  Originally, I thought the figure had been calculated by health wizards as the magic number that we should be hitting each day, and started to believe it was part of the Eat Less, Move More NHS campaign (It isn’t, being aware of time spent moving and focusing on “moving more” than you do at present is though…)  So, I started to do some research into this 10,000 steps a day phenomenon.  I read a really interesting article from the BBC called Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day to keep fit? which says that “It’s believed that the concept of 10,000 steps originated in Japan in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, says Catrine Tudor-Locke, an associate professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre at Louisiana State University. Pedometers became all the rage in the country as Olympic fever swept through Japanese society. One company came out with a device called a manpo-kei, which means 10,000 step meter. “It was a business slogan, like ‘Just Do It’ for Nike, but it resonated with people,” Tudor-Locke says.Since then 10,000 steps has become a commonly-acknowledged goal for daily fitness across the world. Various targets around that figure have been published by public bodies.”

10,000 steps was where the bar was set, and today most pedometers (Fitbits, Jawbones etc) have that step count as its target per day.  There is some math around this figure as well, this post, here, explains that figure and the reasoning behind it makes sense too.  The post explains how it is recommended that we do 30mins of exercise a day, which should give you x amount of steps which can be added to what is classed as a normal amount of steps for an average person (this figure is quoted as around 6500 steps, my average per day before going for a walk is far less…) should then give a figure of around 8,500 – 10,000 steps a day.

There is also the psychological side to look at, 10,000 steps is a nice round number that can be broken down in many different ways (5 lots of 2000 steps for example) so you can easily calculate how to build up those steps through the day.  And its memorable, 10,000 sounds much nicer and neater than say 7500 or 8,250.  People are always pulled toward numbers that end in zero’s or are round, whole tens/hundreds/thousands.

For me though, I like even numbers for a start, and 10,000 is a benchmark figure for me to aim for each day.  It hovers at the finish line and cheers me on, “come on, you can reach me, just another 10 mins of walking and you are there!”.  Then my Jawbone buzzes against my wrist to let me know that I have reached my target for the day, and I feel like I have achieved something, no matter how good or bad my day may have been otherwise, its an achievement that I can say I reached.

And on tht note…did I achieve yesterday?  Let’s take a look….


I did indeed!!!

I am aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day for the whole of september in order to raise money for Cancer Research, if you would like to sponsor me or donate, you can visit my Just Giving page where a few clicks will see your donation added to the cause.


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