The key to building a healthier lifestyle may, quite literally, lie in the steps you take. If you’re one of those people who obsessively check the “Health” app on your iPhone to confirm whether you’ve met the 10,000 steps quota, which is deemed as the ideal number of steps to walk daily, then rest assured that you’re not the only one! However, according to research, this “magic number” may be actually be overly simplistic in terms of providing an accurate idea of your level of activity.
Research has revealed that walking less than 5,000 steps daily is equivalent to leading a sedentary lifestyle, while walking a further 3,000 steps (which equates to a total of 8,000 steps) daily is sufficient if you’re trying to meet the standard exercise recommendation for a healthy adult. But hold your horses - before you start checking those Health apps and rejoicing over the fact that you’re now able to proclaim yourself a “healthy adult”, you must first meet two other key conditions.
Firstly, the additional 3,000 steps need to be taken at a brisk pace of at least 100 steps per minute. Secondly, these steps have to be walked in increments of at least 10 minutes. If these requirements are not met, then you may not actually be falling short of the daily walking quota required for a healthy lifestyle. In fact, a study on people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee or were at high risk for it revealed that more than 75% of participants who walked at least 10,000 steps a day still failed to meet the exercise guidelines.
While fitness trackers are actually generally reliable in terms of providing a rather accurate reading of the number of steps you’ve taken, your step count alone isn’t really indicative of your overall health and fitness. Instead, you should try to be as active as possible, for at least 30 minutes daily, to avoid falling into the trap of leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Walking is great activity to indulge in even for those who already lead active lifestyles. For the hard-training athlete, walking can boost recovery through the improved activation of the para-sympathetic nervous system. It’s also an easy way to increase your daily caloric expenditure if you’re looking for that extra edge in fat-loss without exceeding your ability to recover, thanks to the low-intensity nature of the activity.
Instead of specifically setting aside time to engage in a walking workout, you may want to consider incorporating walking into your daily life, such as parking your car a distance away from your actual destination. This forces you to get moving, and also helps you view walking as a convenient means to an end, rather than a chore. In fact, walking also gives you a chance to engage in a panoply of activities to keep you entertained. If you feel that you’re not really cut out for other activities such as high-intensity workouts or long runs, then it’s probably best to just keep walking (at least for now)!