Do you track your daily walking distance using an app like Map My Run? Does your FitBit vibrate on your wrist, a tremulous applause in recognition of reaching a set number of footfalls? Do you key in your day-to-day activities in a calorie counter to see how much you’ve burned?
If any of these practices sound familiar, and maybe even if they don’t, might you be aiming for that age-old Golden Number of steps each day?
Why 10,000 Steps?
On a recent trip, my travelling partner and I walked – a lot. Every day she would let me know when her FitBit vibrated, signaling we had taken 10,000 steps. Despite the fact that this often occurred around noon, only halfway through our daily adventures, we regularly felt a surge of pride at this achievement. The one day she didn’t receive the tell-tale buzz (a period of transition with much sitting on planes, buses, and ferries), my friend paced the tiny hotel room for fifteen minutes before bed, determined to hit her minimum.
What is this vested interest we have in a seemingly random number of steps? And is 10,000 truly the ideal goal?
Do the Math
First, let’s consider what 10,000 steps means in figures more easily measured by those without a FitBit.
- 1 mile is approximately 2,000 steps.
- 10,000 steps divided by 2,000 steps per mile equals 5 miles.
- This is, of course, depending on the length of the legs in question!
The History of the 10,000 Steps Baseline
The 10,000 steps baseline came up around the time pedometers first became popular. In fact, a 1960s model developed in Japan literally translated to “The 10,000 Steps Meter.” 10,000 steps was found to burn about 300 calories on average, hence the daily goal and the name.
It’s important to note, too, that even back in the hip ol’ 70s, those 10,000 steps were meant to be added to a regular active lifestyle in the hope that society could get back to activity levels of old, not as the total culmination of all daily activity.
Should You Walk 10,000 Steps Each Day?
So, is 10,000 steps a healthy goal? Absolutely. Is it the goal everyone the world over should be aiming for? Not necessarily.
The FitBit website recently laid out their reason for programming a 10,000 step default into their device. But it does recognize that each person has a different fitness goal, and is starting at a different place, wellness-wise.
(Obviously, counting steps is only practical if you have a pedometer, but with the handy conversion above, you can translate your distance into something more easily tracked by Google Maps!)
For those new to physical activity, they recommend figuring out how many steps you take in a regular day (or how many miles you walk). Using that as a baseline, add 1000 additional steps a day – about half a mile – every week.
Contrarily, if you’re already in excellent shape, 10,000 might be a bit slack for you. You’ll probably be able to tell when your 5 miles leave you wanting more, so don’t be afraid to jack it up! If you always walk to and from work, and often take the dog for a lengthy stroll in the evening, you could find you need to aim for 12,000 or 15,000 to see a clear improvement in your fitness level.
If weight loss is your ultimate goal, the site suggests you do some math. Evidently, our bodies haven’t changed much since the 1960s; 10,000 steps per day still burns about 2,000 calories per week. So you can use the 300 calories = 10,000 steps conversion to figure out your ultimate goal. (This also comes in handy when you want to work off that second slice of chocolate cake…)
Many healthy living resources agree that for general wellness, 10,000 steps is probably a good ballpark, and there aren’t any mainstream arguments against this number. Like with most things – the max weight to lift at the gym, how often you need your hair trimmed, how many cats is too many – you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you, and find a system that works for you!
Walking every day is a great way to keep healthy. At Growers Choice, we offer a number of cannabis seed strains that can give you the energy to get outside, in addition to their other healing benefits. Tangerine Dream is one of our most popular energizing strains because it delivers serious pain relief as well as stimulation. What’s your favorite way to make sure you’re moving every day?