How far have you gone today Was the longest way from bed to bathroom to kitchen and from there straight to your desk?
At least this is what everyday life looks like for many of us, especially in times of pandemics. The highlight of the week is then shopping in the supermarket, which is of course also taken by car. Speaking of cars – even if you are not in the home office and drive to work on your way to work, you will hardly collect the often mentioned 10,000 steps .
Elevators and escalators do the rest for our sedentary lifestyle. Movement in everyday life is (not only) currently in short supply for a large number of people.
Now you are on a fitness blog and probably more or less active in sports. Is it even necessary to take sufficient steps if you already do exercise several times a week?
I say yes and advocate that you collect steps diligently in everyday life.
Are 10,000 Steps Per Day Really Necessary to Live Healthier?
Everyone is talking about 10,000 steps and there is almost a hype about it. In any case, I am no longer surprised when someone from my relatives or acquaintances says that he or she still has to collect a few more steps in order to have walked enough today. You probably know such sayings too.
By the way, 10,000 steps correspond to between 6 and 8 kilometers, depending on the length of your legs. Not that little, is it? Anyone who has a predominantly sedentary job will notice that it is not that easy to walk the recommended amount every day.
But where does this ominous number 10,000 come from?
At least not from science, because there people talk about a positive effect on health and well-being from around 7,500 steps. Instead, it was probably the good marketing of the first pedometer that was “to blame” that the number has stuck in our heads. Funnily enough, even the World Health Organization (WHO) has now made the value a standard.
The 10,000 steps are just so wonderfully memorable. By the way, according to studies, it becomes a health concern for you if you consistently walk fewer than 5,000 steps per day. And even that has to be done in one day in the (home) office.
This is how walking affects your health
Without enough exercise, you cannot lead a balanced and healthy life. In other words, a lack of exercise is the cause of most typical diseases of civilization such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Man is simply not made for idleness or for the couch. No matter how comfortable it is. In the Stone Age, our ancestors walked up to 40 km a day and genetically we still hardly differ from them today.
More oxygen, more ideas and fewer infections
Of course, if you walk a lot every day, you will hardly build any significant muscles. The movement is not intense enough for that. On the other hand, you can increase your fitness so that your everyday life becomes easier in many ways. And burn a few extra calories too. You need about 300Kcal for 10,000 steps.
For many, regular walking is also a kind of starting signal for a healthier life. Suddenly you take the bike more often or catch yourself eating healthier or even watching a fitness video on YouTube and taking part. True to my motto:
“If you want to move something, you have to get moving.”
And something else speaks in favor of long walks – you develop ideas and have time to think. These moments have become rare, especially in our fast-moving times. That’s why I always have my smartphone with me on my walks, for example, to capture new ideas.
To walk away from death
American researchers have examined the walking habits of 5,000 test persons for more than 10 years. In addition to the unsurprising finding that a busy life leads to a lower risk of death, especially from cardiovascular diseases, there was another finding that may motivate you to take more steps in the future.
As soon as the subjects managed to double their daily number of steps, taking at least 8000 steps together, the risk of death decreased by 50%.
10,000 steps every day – that’s the goal I’ve set for more exercise. You can find out why you can do it here.
“Use it or loose it” – why we fall down so often
I was very surprised by a fact that I recently read in the magazine “Spektrum Wissenschaft”. According to the WHO, the number of fatal falls almost doubled between 1999 and 2017 in people between the ages of 45 and 64. The older you are, the greater the risk. Anyone who thinks that society has simply aged accordingly since 1990 is mistaken. The number of falls has increased significantly more than can be explained by the aging of humanity.
Lack of exercise is now reliably believed to be the main cause of this fact. From the age of 20, our equilibrium system begins to decline and, especially in middle years, we move less and less.
For us, walking is the most normal thing in the world, something that we learn as a small child. Walking on two legs is an extremely complex movement. Only a few living beings have mastered this and none as well as humans, who are the only living beings that predominantly move on two legs.
The reason we do this lies in our brain, which is able to keep us on two legs with our sense of balance. Ultimately, this equilibrium system prevents us from falling. And that is what needs to be trained. Special exercises (“How long can you stand on one leg?”) Are of course ideal, but simple walking is just as complex because of its complexity. The more you work on or with your balance, the better it will be.
The intensity doesn’t matter to your health
Now we’re on a platform where the focus is on running or jogging. So the running and not the walking. But if you are only concerned about your health and less about your fitness, then it is enough if you take regular walks. I have to be that honest.
The intensity of your movement does not lead to any improvement in your health. In this regard, walking has the same effect as jogging, although the latter of course has other advantages .
Can I take 10,000 steps a day?
To answer the question directly: No, of course not.
Until last year, I hardly paid any attention to my daily steps. I do sport 4-5 times a week on average, so I will get enough exercise, was my motto. And that is basically correct.
Nevertheless, I started to pay attention to the values of my sports watch. And was a little horrified. On average office days, I barely got over 4,000 steps. I had long since banned elevators from my life and of course I walked the half kilometer to the office. When I was more often in the home office, the 4,000 steps quickly turned into 1,500. Without running training I would never have come up with a reasonable number of steps.
Something had to change – I set myself the task of aiming for 10,000 steps every day. Not dogmatic and compelling, but nonetheless steady. And after a few months I can say that I succeeded. Here are a few numbers:
How you measure your steps
Now you might be wondering how to measure your steps. There are many possibilities today. Classically there used to be pure pedometers, but these days they are only available on the market as advertising media. The competition for wearables, i.e. fitness trackers, smartwatches or sports watches, is too great. The transitions between the individual areas are fluid.
I have a Garmin Fenix 6pro myself and of course this high-end sports watch also measures my steps. And that reliably and at any time, as I almost never take the watch off. If, on the other hand, you are not interested in the whole area of sports (and much more), a cheap fitness tracker will do the same. For example, my sister has a Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 and it measures her steps hardly less reliably for a fraction of the Garmin sports watch.