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Do we really need to walk 10,000 steps a day?

All the apps and fitness trackers push you to do 10,000 steps a day, come rain or shine, if you want to be your fittest you – but it turns out the number may have just been a marketing gimmick.

The 10,000 steps trend can be traced back to 1965 Japan. A doctor named Yoshiro Hatano began selling a pedometer known as the manpo-kei (10,000 steps meter). Walk 10,000 steps a day, he said, and you can consider yourself fit.

Now legend has it he may have picked the number because the Japanese symbol for 10k looks like a walking man.

There is no evidence to suggest that 10,000 is any kind of turning point for fitness. If anything, the catchphrase has done quite a lot of harm, since people began to feel that if there was no chance of them hitting 10,000, they needn’t bother to walk about for exercise at all.

That is simply not the case, says fitness and health coach Deanne Pandey. “There is no one-size-fits-all number of steps to aim for.”

For a fit 20-year-old, 10,000 steps might be too few and for a 69-year-old with arthritis, it might be too much. The trend ignores heart rate during exercise, and even the intensity of the walking. “If you’re ambling about and hitting 10,000 steps, it doesn’t really count as a workout,” Pandey adds. The important thing is to get the heart racing, and to move as much as you can.

Every little bit helps, Pandey emphasises, but the truth is that exercise is exercise and the best form is cardiovascular.

So forget the random number and do as many steps as you can. It’s a start, even if it is not in itself a solution. (HT Media)

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