10000 Steps a Day – What’s It All About?

Are you working towards 10000 steps a day? The concept of walking 10000 steps per day has gained huge popularity over the years and it’s widely seen as a positive marker for physical activity. Many fitness trackers and health apps encourage us to reach this milestone, but the question remains: where did it come from and is 10000 steps really the best way to measure your physical activity? We’re separating fact from fiction to understand the origins and value of this widely recommended daily target.


Where Did The 10000 Step Goal Come From?

You might be surprised to learn that the origin of the 10000 steps goal can be traced back to a marketing campaign by a Japanese pedometer manufacturer in the 1960s. The pedometer name was Manpo-kei, which translates to 10000 step metre and the marketing slogan was, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”. At the time, there wasn’t any real evidence to support the target number. In an article for The Guardian, Prof David Bassett, head of kinesiology, recreation and sport studies at the University of Tennessee said, “They just felt that was a number that was indicative of an active lifestyle and should be healthy”. Since then, that 10000 step goal has gained massive popularity and has been widely adopted as a daily target for physical activity. However, the question remains whether 10000 steps is truly the best target to be working towards.


What Are The Health Benefits Of Walking?

Walking is a low-impact form of accessible exercise that offers a heap of health benefits. Regular walking has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, and reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers too. It’s also shown to support mental health, and increase overall fitness by promoting joint mobility, bone density, and weight management. Although the 10000 step target may be rooted in an arbitrary marketing slogan, walking itself is an excellent form of exercise.


What Does The Scientific Research Say?

Recent scientific studies have explored the relationship between step counts and health outcomes. While there is no doubt that increasing physical activity has many advantages, the specific threshold of 10000 steps is not universally supported by research. Some studies suggest that even lower step counts can lead to health benefits, while others emphasize the importance of intensity and duration of physical activity rather than focusing solely on step counts. According to the current recommendations from the Department of Health, each week adults should participate in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball.


How To Find The Right Balance

It’s always important to pay attention to your body and the recommendations from your GP when it comes to physical activity. Factors such as age, fitness level, health conditions, and personal goals should be taken into account. While a step target may be a good start, including strength training, aerobic and flexibility exercises into your exercise regime can further enhance overall fitness and well-being. Listen to your body, set realistic goals, and prioritize consistency and enjoyment in your fitness routine. For more exercise tips, read through our 12 Personal Trainer-Approved Exercise Tips and Lessons.