I read an article about where the 10,000 steps a day trend came from. It turns out that some company making fitness watches thought that it’d be a good, round number to set as a goal that is roughly two or three times the number of steps people normally get in a day. Is there any basis in 10,000 steps a day being good for you? Not really. It’s not bad, but it’s not going to help you lose weight.
Don’t get me wrong; getting steps is good for you. It’s better than sitting all day, but not for the reasons most people try to get steps. Here are some reasons it’s good to get those steps in (and to get up and off your butt!):
- Getting up helps your hips and back by allowing you to stretch them. Staying in one position for long periods of time can lead to muscle pain and even back problems due to poor posture most of us have when sitting.
- Moving helps your body digest. That’s why walking after a meal is actually very good for you!
- Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to heart disease. Why? There are many reasons scientists think they are linked, but the fact remains that people who sit for long periods of time tend to have heart disease. Or is it people with heart disease tend to sit a lot? I’d rather get those steps in.
- Diabetes. Believe it or not, insulin resistance is higher after sitting or laying down for long periods of time. People with higher body weight tend to have more problems with this.
- Getting up and walking for a bit a few times a day helps relieve neck and shoulder strain from looking at your monitor all day. It also helps relieve eye strain.
What 10,000 steps a day will not do, however, is allow you to eat whatever you want and lose weight. 10,000 steps a day won’t even actually help you lose weight unless you change your diet (at which time it’s actually your diet that’s making you lose weight, not the steps). The 10,000 steps can help your heart if you make those steps brisk, but to get really true benefits from exercise, you have to either lift lots of weights or get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes.
So, get those steps in. They won’t hurt you, but don’t think that walking 10,000 steps a day will replace a solid fitness plan. It just won’t.