Will 10,000 steps per day improve one’s health?Dr. Veita Bland / June 21, 2019
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Most of us have received the memo that we need to be more active. The problem is in how we make that happen.
For those who are inclined to go to the gym, a program can be shaped that will help you meet your fitness goals. However, for many people the gym can be intimidating, time consuming, financially out of reach or just not an attractive place to go. The gym does not work for everyone.
Many people prefer to exercise at home. It is convenient and there are many exercise resources from tapes to online coaches or classes that can help you reach your goal.
There are personal devices that you wear on your arm, leg or carry on your body to monitor physical activity. These devices are convenient, can be unobtrusive and look cool. They make you look like you are fighting the battle to be more active and can be a great monitor and motivator if that is what you want.
If you don’t have a monitor, your phone can track how many steps you take in a day. So how many steps should you take in a day to attain health? Conventionally, everybody has said 10,000 steps a day is the goal for health, but where did that number come from? Was there some scientific study that recorded different amounts of steps by different groups of people and came up with that number, 10,000 steps?
That is not what happened. 10,000 Steps is the name of a company in Japan that devised one of the first personal monitors. People just assumed that was the number of steps needed to achieve health and the lore was cast in stone with no scientific data to back it up.
Recently, researchers have been asking, what is the number of steps needed to improve health. It has been known that people who move around seem to do better, but where is the science?
In a recent study, researchers looked at this. They gave monitors to a group of women and asked them to wear them daily while up and about carrying out their daily lives. The women in the study varied in age up to age 101 but the average age was 72. They were monitored for several years. They had to return their monitors to the researchers to be recorded. This is important because the participants could not just say they walked a certain number of steps, the validated monitors confirmed their steps.
What did the data find? They needed to walk 4,400 steps in a day to achieve an improvement in health. Researchers also determined that with increasing steps there were increased benefits to health. Interesting enough, they found that there was a point where increasing steps did not translate into increased health. That number was 7,500 steps a day.
This tells me that those of us who do not reach our 10,000 steps a day are still doing great things for our health if we get to 4,400 steps a day. Does this mean we should scrap the 10,000 steps a day? I think not. It’s my goal to walk more for steps in a day, but knowing I’m still helping my health when I don’t achieve 10,000 steps helps the old ego.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.