10,000 Steps: Fact or Fiction?

If you take a look around at peoples’ wrists, odds are one of them is wearing a fitness tracker. These pieces of wearable technology track your daily physical activity and provide you with fitness goals throughout the day to keep you motivated and active.

As a baseline, most fitness trackers give you a preprogrammed goal of moving at least 10,000 steps or five miles a day. Although daily physical activity is a goal everyone should be aiming for, is 10,000 steps the right goal for everyone?

Japanese Walking Clubs

The step goal is thought to have originated in the 1960s when a Japanese watchmaker created a pedometer and named it Manpo-Kei, which translates to 10,000 step meter. After gaining popularity with walking clubs, the catchy slogan turned into a fitness goal that the medical community later adopted.

What does the Doctor say?

Whether 10,000 steps is the ideal goal for everyone is debated by many health professionals. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found 10,000 steps daily is a reasonable target for healthy adults. However, instead of a step goal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly along with two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

According to the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the average American walks fewer than 5,000 steps a day, so aiming for 10,000 steps a day may seem unrealistic at first. In order to sustainably increase your activity levels, the Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports found that slow and steady, incremental increases are the key.

Get Going with Goals

Sarah King, Director of Wellness at Harbin Clinic, agrees that gradual increases and concrete goals are the way to get people moving. She suggests building slowly on your current activity level by setting realistic goals.

“At Harbin, our goal is to get folks moving. If someone is sedentary, we suggest you start with 10 minutes of physical activity a day and gradually build up to the recommended 30 minutes five days a week. Add 500 steps daily for a week or two and then add another 500 steps the next week, working towards a daily average of 7,500-10,000 steps.”

According to King, being active throughout the day is what truly impacts your health. To get more daily activity, walk to the mailbox instead of pulling up to it, get up from your work station and walk to a coworker’s desk instead of sending an email, or walk to the break room to refill your water bottle more often.

No matter what a person’s step or overall fitness goals are, Harbin Clinic cares completely about getting you up and active.