MythBusters Episode 3: Should I Do 10,000 Steps A Day?

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How many steps a day should you walk?

Popular wisdom states 10,000.

But this notion actually came from a Japanese marketing company, tasked with marketing a pedometer. There was no science behind it; it’s just a good-looking, hard enough to reach but not too-hard number of steps.

So, if you’re beating yourself up or judging yourself for not “making your steps”, you’re a victim of marketing, not of being unfit or in any way unworthy.

If you’re still wondering how many steps a day you should walk, you might be surprised at the answer. Studies have shown that walking 7500 is associated with 65% lower risk of mortality. Even as “low” as 4400 steps a day is associated with 41% lower risk.

So, the higher number is better, yes, but what this points to is that just being more active is better than being less active. That’s it.

Your body cannot count steps.

You don’t need to tie your worth to a number – in anything you do.

And you don’t need to obsess over hitting an arbitrary target.

This “magic” 10,000 number has been associated with losing 1 lb of fat per week. You’ve probably heard that walking 10,000 steps a day burns an extra 500 calories. Let me just say this now, this is likely not going to happen because whoever says that, does not know your body. They don’t know how many calories it takes for your body to walk 10,000 steps. Or if those steps are uphill or downhill. Or what phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in (yes that affects it), or how much muscle mass you’re holding on to at the moment, or how fast you’re walking. Right?

You are just as likely to lose more than 1lb, as you are to lose 1lb or even gain 1lb. Your weight is a combination of so many variables.

Also, as we’ve learned in a previous blog post, your body will make you take in more energy (eat more) to balance out what it expends.

Walking is one of the easiest, most accessible, most enjoyable ways of moving your body that I know. If you love it, and you can fit it into your day every day, go for it. I’ll join you. I’m not here to tell you that walking is pointless.

You might disagree; you might not enjoy walking. That’s cool. What else do you like doing to move your body? Do more of that instead. Movement is movement.

I’ll say it again, you don’t need to assign your worth as a person to a number.

I’ll also say this; have a think about what you want to get out of that 10,000 steps a day target? Really, what do you want?

And is there a better way to get there?

Because walking won’t make you better at anything other than walking (except maybe thinking; I bet you win some amazing arguments in your head while you’re walking!)

If you want the fitness and joint health benefits of walking, the “damn I feel sexy” benefits of having more muscle, the confidence benefits of being able to do really hard things that other people can’t do, and the injury-proofing benefits of being really strong, lifting heavy objects and moving them around is the way to go.

You can start with one kettlebell and your own bodyweight.

Walking is always allowed and encouraged however; I just don’t care how many steps you do!


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