If you have tried a fitness tracker, health app or pedometer, you may have noticed the default goal is 10,000 steps a day. This is the amount recommended by the NHS, and has become the commonly accepted aim for those looking for a healthy lifestyle. But should you be walking 10,000 steps a day?
There is a whole host of health benefits to walking 10,000 steps a day. Firstly, it ensures that you are at least moderately active. The average person walks less than half of that per day. In particular, people who drive and work in desk jobs are at risk of very low movement during the day.
Having 10,000 steps as a goal throughout the day encourages you to get up and move at least every hour. This is important for your circulation, respiration and muscles. Those that achieve this basic level of activity are far less likely to suffer from a number of health complications later in life.
Walking is also beneficial to your mental health. Studies have suggested that walking in nature has the same calming effects as meditation, with walkers reporting increased positivity and feelings of wellbeing.
If you are currently inactive most days, increasing your steps to 10,000 will help you to start getting fit. If you find yourself struggling, increase the number of steps by 150 each day until you reach at least 10,000. Walking 10,000 steps a day burns around 450 calories. So, if you do not increase your calorie intake you will lose weight.
If you already have an active lifestyle outside of walking, e.g you lift weights or cycle most days, the effect will be minimal in terms of weight loss. However, the health benefits of including active bursts throughout the day will still apply.
More than 10k?
That’s great! The more steps you take, the greater your health will be. There is no evidence to suggest that there should be a cap on how much you walk per day. Professionals like nurses or PE teachers will undoubtedly find that they often exceed the 10,000 steps mark. And of course, if you are a hiker or runner, you will find you smash this target too. If you can go beyond the 10,000 mark, go for it.
How Tough Is It?
No, unless you have prior health conditions 10,000 steps should be easily achievable. Making sure you take a brief walking break every hour is a great way to quickly increase your steps. Walking to places you might use a car or taxi to can also help. If you have a very inactive job you will probably need to go for a walk before or after work to hit your target. Take the dog or kids, or go for a jog to speed up your achievement.