How many steps per day are enough?
This is the question that has probably been on your mind for the last few years, especially if you’re trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
The goal of 10,000 steps per day was not originally determined by any scientific research. It was just a marketing strategy, a well studied, round number that looked pleasing on those pedometer advertising campaigns that you could see everywhere online.
The actual reality is that walking is really good for your health.
Many studies have proven that walking at least 10,000 steps per day can improve blood pressure scores. More scientific research has linked a 10,000-step habit to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, better psychological conditions, better mood and more energy, in addition to weight loss and improved body composition.
The scientific research published in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”, shows what happens when we move from an optimal level of daily movement – 10 thousand steps, in fact – to an insufficient “amount” (less than 5 thousand steps). The analysis showed that decreasing for only five days the numbers of steps walked is sufficient to affect the functionality of the internal lining of the blood vessels, which several studies have directly linked to a greater risk of hypertension and cardiovascular death.
Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running. It also can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Even if you already have heart disease, walking can help prevent further heart disease and may allow you to live a healthier life.
Also, it is extremely important for improving your memory and increasing your creativity. Why? Because it has the ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors
Many of you might not know it, but walking is also extremely good for reducing your stress levels. It triggers the release of endorphins, potent brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation. The higher your level of endorphins, the greater your sense of well-being.
So, if you’ve had a stressful day at work, just walk your way home. Or, once you get home, just give yourself at least ten or fifteen minutes and take a walk in your neighborhood. Your body will definitely thank you for that.
Just think about our ancestors: for thousands and, thousands of years humans were definitely not a sedentary species.
Over the time we got used to long periods of sitting due to studying and working. Also, using cars for our daily activities, even when we could walk to our destination places, led us to totally abandon that good habit.
According to research by Catrine Tudor-Locke, reaching 10,000 steps per day has been proven to be a fairly good marker for being moderately active and achieving the minimum amount of physical activity recommended each day.
The ideal target would be 15,000 steps, but for many people, 10,000 is a reasonable target because it’s ambitious but still attainable.
If you struggle to reach even 5,000, set a lower goal to start and then work your way up.
Personally, I struggle as well reaching a monthly average of 5,000 steps. There are days when I’m extremely active and I outdo the 10,000 steps target. On other days, though, I struggle to even reach 3,000 steps. That’s why I made one of my new year’s resolutions to reach a yearly average of 5,000 steps a day.
If you typically walk 5,000 steps each day without any dedicated exercise time during the week, try to add 2,000 or 3,000 steps to your day. And it’s even better if you try walking with a higher intensity.
The only certainty is that when it comes to steps the only rule is: the more the better (as long as you’re doing it without psychologically forcing yourself into it).