Most of us have heard that taking 10,000 steps each day is a great way to ensure we’re getting plenty of exercise on a daily basis. The idea gained popularity around 20 years ago, especially with corporate wellness programs and individuals who were sedentary or desk-bound throughout the workday.
“The concept of taking 10,000 steps a day for health has been around for 15 to 20 years. The American Heart Association recommends using a pedometer to count your steps and to increase your daily step count until you reach 10,000 steps a day,” says Jason Duvall, an exercise physiologist with Hillcrest Exercise & Lifestyle. “The distance is around five miles based on an average gait of two and a half feet.”
Five miles is a lofty goal for those who live a sedentary lifestyle, meaning they take less than 2,000 steps each day. Duvall suggests that people make small goals, beginning with a goal of 1,000 to 2,000 steps a day and then increasing by 500 steps a week to reach 10,000 steps a day. He says small goals will help people remain motivated instead of getting discouraged. He also encourages a healthy lifestyle of eating healthy and regular exercise, whether it be walking or other forms of exercise.
“The idea of achieving 10,000 steps a day is really to serve as a guideline and provide motivation. It helps provide an achievable daily goal for people who may lead more sedentary lives,” Duvall says. “It’s really about awareness – being aware of how much you move is another way for people to increase their physical activity. Walking is something anyone can do; it’s something anyone can incorporate into their day, and it’s free. And pedometers provide a great visual for people to see how well they are doing and track their progress.”
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.