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Why 10,000 Steps a Day?

So, you have a brand-new fitness tracker or fitness app and, like most, it will suggest a goal of 10,000 steps a day to begin your new exercise program. To some it sounds easy, while to others it may seem impossible. Why is the number set at 10,000 anyway?

The number comes from a Japanese company that was marketing a pedometer in the 1960's. And while they had no evidence that 10,000 was a healthy number of steps, studies eventually did reveal that it works to improve health.

In fact, it was found that overweight women who walked 10,000 steps per day improved glucose levels and another study showed a reduction in blood pressure after just 24 weeks.

It turns out that a goal of 10,000 steps is roughly the same as walking five miles, and even equates to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week. This is the minimum time of exercise required to ward off chronic illness and to stay healthy and fit.

Benefits of Walking

While your fitness tracker might suggest 10,000 steps a day, the insinuation is to walk this number steps. It is assumed that at least 20 minutes of those steps will result in an increased heart rate, which will be enough to meet daily exercise needs. But can merely walking make that much of a difference? We found some health benefits that show walking works.

Burn calories – The average person walks approximately 4,000 to 5,000 steps per day. Whether you currently incorporate another form of exercise or not, adding more steps to complete the 10,000 steps per day will increase the number of calories used. This can result in numerous health advantages including toned muscles and higher metabolism.

Lower BMI – One study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that subjects who walked more enjoyed lower a Body Mass Index, or BMI. This indicates that those who walk more had BMIs that were considered in a healthy range, which is important because a high BMI is a risk factor for obesity.

Increased heart health – Some researchers believe that walking should be prescribed as an effective exercise for prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD). Their research showed that walking 30 minutes a day for five days reduced the risk of CHD in the general population.

Improved blood sugar levels – Moderate paced walking after a meal has been used by many fitness enthusiasts to stimulate digestion and keep metabolism revved. And it seems that taking a short 15-minute walk after a meal may be more beneficial at improving blood sugar than walking longer at any other time of day. In addition, Dr. Paul Williams of Berkeley Lab (Berkeley, CA) found that those who walk enjoyed a lower risk of type 2 diabetes among other health benefits.

Improved brain function – A 12 week randomized controlled trial found that daily walking in combination with a weekly exercise class improved cognitive function and memory in older adults. In 2010, another study in the journal, Neurology, found that walking was associated with improved brain health.

Improved mood – Like other forms of exercise, walking stimulates feel good brain chemicals that improve mood and mental states. This means a happier and overall improved outlook on life.

Along with all the physical benefits, walking is a form of exercise that is convenient and within reach for most people. All that is required is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and motivation, and you are on your way to a healthier you.

Get the Most of Your 10,000 Steps

Walking 10,000 steps will be an improvement for many. But to truly get the benefits, try to ensure that at least 20 minutes a day of those steps result in sustained and increased heart rate. A slow pace might not do much good, especially if your body is used to exercise. At the same time, a 20-minute walk at a slow pace might result in an extra 1,000 steps, but increasing your pace could easily double that number. And the health benefits of increased intensity can result in an improved mood, a healthier heart and improved muscle tone.

How to do 10k Steps a Day

Increasing your daily steps to 10,000 per day may seem daunting to some. If you walk a moderate 4,000 steps per day, adding another 20-minute walk might only increase your steps by 1,000. So, what can you do about it? Check out these ideas:

· Increase your pace to get more steps in, in a shorter amount of time.

· Take the stairs, no matter where you are. Malls and offices with more than one story provide choices of escalators, elevators and stairs, so take the stairs. You might even be able to get in more steps if the stairs are located further away than where you would normally walk.

· Walk your dog every day. This will improve the mental health of both you and your pup. If you don’t have a dog, try volunteering to take a neighbor’s dog for a walk.

· Listen to music. Upbeat music or music with a strong beat can be motivational and even inspire you to walk longer and faster.

· Park farther away from where you are going. Choose the edge of a parking lot or park two blocks away from your destination.

· Walk to the store. If you live within a mile or two from any store, walk instead of driving.

· Invest in a treadmill if you can. These are convenient for those who have the room because you can listen to music, watch tv or read while walking in the comfort of your home.

Conclusion

Walking 10,000 steps is a noble goal, but everyone has different exercise requirements. No matter where you begin, go at your pace and work your way up to your personal goal.

Using a fitness app like Yes.Fit you can set goals that keep you motivated. Keep track of your steps, acknowledging your improvements and celebrating your wins, and then you will see how far you can go.

About the Author

Heather Peterson

Heather is the Customer Success Marketing Manager and has been with Yes.Fit for 3 1/2 years, She loves to cook while making memories with her three daughters. She is a car karaoke expert. She enjoys reading all the books while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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