Two words: count steps.
If you constantly hear yourself speaking these two words, you are not a unique case. Feet eager to get going, the excitement of crossing another goal or the terror of having to fit another 5000 steps in the middle of a hectic daily routine … what profile do you fit in?
With the popularity of fitness trackers , it is easy to be aware of how many steps we walk and many people set daily step goals. Many of us have spent a lot of time at home, and it can sometimes be difficult to meet the planned number.
This week, we’ll see if step counting really matters, or if it’s just an unfounded fashion.
Why do we focus on step counting?
Step counting is a direct way to control our daily fitness practice, as reaching a certain number of steps shows that we are performing physical activity. This is a good starting point for exercise and shows us how much activity we do throughout the day.
Why 10,000 steps?
There is a general reference point of 10,000 steps.
Looking for an initial goal? 10,000 steps. How many steps should the neighbor next door take every day while walking the dog? 10,000 steps. How much should you walk in the morning? Until you reach 10,000 steps.
So, 10,000 steps is the answer that many people give if you ask them how much to walk every day, but where did this number come from?
The origins date back to the distant year of 1965, when a Japanese company created a device – the first portable step counter. This contraption has been given the name of Manpo-Kei , which means something like “10,000 step meter”.
The name was very effective in terms of marketing, and also influenced the pedometers and fitness trackers that came afterwards, which is why the idea of 10,000 steps has become widespread. That is, there is not really much science behind it.
What are the benefits of step counting?
An adequate step count has been shown to reduce the mortality rate – but the word “adequate” is central here. Research shows that the positive influence in this area peaks at around 7500 steps per day, and therefore taking additional steps will not have a significant impact on the mortality rate.
If you are looking for a goal in terms of the number of steps, try to reach a minimum of 5000. Everything below this number does not provide noteworthy cardiovascular benefits. 2
Does this mean that the positive influence on our health stops us at 7500 steps, or are there additional reasons to continue walking and adding steps?
While studies focus mainly on reducing mortality, taking more steps means that we spend more time standing and, consequently, that the cardiovascular system has to work.
We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease body weight, and by taking more steps every day, you are contributing to all these physical benefits.
Is step counting the most efficient way to make a positive contribution to our health?
The average running speed is faster than walking, and therefore a number of steps can be reached more quickly through running. If time is a critical factor, choosing a route for a race may be preferable to a ride.
This is recognized by the National Health Agency from the United Kingdom, which recommends only half the time of physical activity for those who participate in vigorous exercise, compared to activities of moderate intensity.
It is widely understood that jogging instead of walking produces, for the same amount of time, more cardiovascular benefits, as the heart and the rest of the body are forced to do more work .
Compared to both walking and running, cycling involves using different muscles, removing the weight-bearing component and changing the intensity. It is true that both running and cycling are high-intensity sports, but they are very different from each other and appeal to different people for different reasons.
If you pay attention to the number of steps you take as a way of keeping your body active and moving, but you worry about injuries (which happen at the best and always at the worst times!), why not try to use household chores as a source of physical activity? Simply gardening for an hour is an intensity exercise corresponding to walking at a moderate pace for the same time at an average speed of 3km / h, and eliminates the impact in terms of weight load that is naturally involved in walking.
Making step count more interesting
Achieving a daily goal every day can be quite monotonous. If you want to increase the step count, or are simply looking for ways to vary the walks a bit, remember that it is not necessary to stick to a conventional walk and that you can vary, for example, taking the dog for a walk, taking a frisbee to the park, parking farther from the destination than usual to increase the walk to the place, enjoying while you are on the phone or listening to music to walk, or taking shorter walks during the day: nobody said it was necessary take all the steps of a seat.
Compliance with a specific number is not necessary, as long as you are doing the recommended 30 minutes 5 times a week of physical activity, but it is a way of quantifying and keeping an eye on activity levels.
Knowing how many steps we take is also an excellent way to remember to move, reducing sedentary hours and contributing positively to our well-being.
As a reference, aim for a minimum of 5000 steps per day, to benefit your health in general. Additional steps are a bonus for the cardiovascular system and mental health, in addition to the pleasure of fresh air and nature.