10000 steps. Enough? Or Not Realistic?

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I was generously given a step counting device (Neo Health) and a body composition analyser (Onyx) aka body fat% scales from the founder of Virtuagym, Hugo Braam, which is now in the Energy Zone here at Best Practice. The scales link with our client’s personal profile on the Virtuagym App and automatically updates to their profile when connected via Bluetooth, as does the pedometer for me. Fit bit currently does this too for anyone of our clients who have one. This is very cool indeed as anything that buys us time and gives value feedback about what is getting done and the results produced from doing it, is much appreciated these days in the crazy busy lives that we all seem to lead.

I thought I would road test the step counter/pedometer, as I have never actually used one before, not even a Fit Bit! I know that makes me a bit uncool according to my boy but better late than never right? But I have always encouraged more activity for our clients and the tracking of steps is a simple yet very effective motivational tool for achieving that.

I have to say though that I was a little dismayed the other day. Admittedly I can’t expect to accumulate much activity sitting behind the computer for most of the day (ironically encouraging others to move more!) but you know I am up and down the stairs here at the studio a bit…… but apparently not that much in terms of steps! Anyway on this particular day I decided to up the ante on my run as I have been sticking around the 4km mark with the occasional 6km thrown in. Suffice is to say that I was confident my little activity tracker would be giving me some kind of metaphorical high five somewhere in my almost 9km run, letting me know I was a 10000 step champ. But no it didn’t hit the 10000 mark even with that longer run thrown in and ‘all the other activity’ I had accumulated in my office đŸ™‚ that morning. I think I just need to take smaller steps next time!

Man is it easy to be sedentary! Which by the way is generally accepted as anything less than 5000 steps.

I did a bit of research in to the 10000 step thing and found that it had some links back to Japan and a walking club in the 1960s, called oddly enough the 10000 step club or something similar. So how did it get to be something we use so widely to get people walking more? Whatever the reason I do think it is a great motivational tool for the most part. But is 10000 steps simply too hard to get? Based on my not-so-common-to the-average-person, 9km run, you would think not many people hit the 10000 step mark regularly. On the other hand is it enough for kids when you consider the rising tiding of obesity?

I read a great study from a couple of researchers in the States who propose a new classification system based on their impressive work in this area. They also suggest that 10000 steps may be too much to be realistically achieved for older adults and especially those with chronic disease and that 10000 is probably not enough for kids given the ease at which excess calories are consumed.

I came across other studies which argue that 10000 is no where near enough and that about double that amount is what is needed to make any significant dent in a chronically obese individual. I think it is worth noting that there is also much current research which states the intensity of the exercise is more important than the amount so good to keep that in mind. I guess this is the reason we use My Zone at Best Practice. It measures effort and rewards it accordingly.

In the long run I think a combination of tools is the best approach and with understanding that every ‘body’ reacts differently. I think that doing something is just about always better than nothing too, even if you don’t think it is enough. When it isn’t better though, is when too much of the wrong thing is done too soon. Slow and steady folks. Build it one block at a time. It is not important what you are doing next week but what you are continuing to do next year and the year after, as a natural part of your life.

Just a footnote on the disappointment of my less than 10000 step day even though I ran 9km. This is a classic case of not looking at things for what they are. The cardiovascular benefits of keeping my heart rate between 70 and 90% of it’s maximum for approximately 45mins far outweighs any ‘rules’ around moving a certain amount of steps.

Keep the steps in perspective, use them to motivate you to be more active for sure but use feedback on your results as your ultimate guide.


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