10,000 Steps Is Not Enough!
Today’s wearable fitness monitors provide a “motivation alert” as you approach the magic number of 10,000 steps per day. But a new study shows that goal may not be anything to celebrate — and focuses on a new threshold for maximum benefits.
Journal Of Obesity
In the March issue of International Journal of Obesity, researchers from the University of Warwick in England published a study based on mail carriers in Scotland. They found that the 10,000-step regimen is too conservative. For optimum heart-health benefits, you need to go the extra mile — to 15,000 steps.
Glasgow Mail Carriers
Results Are in the Mail. Mail carriers in Glasgow mostly cover their routes on foot, so researchers knew they would be perfect test subjects for the study. Office workers were seated for most of the day, providing good contrast participants.
The study followed 111 postal workers of both categories (56 mail carriers, and 55 office workers), and included both sexes between the ages of 40 and 60. The researchers compiled data on blood sugar levels, body- mass index (BMI) — a measure of body fat based on height-to- weight ratio — waist sizes, and cholesterol levels.
Participants each wore fitness monitors throughout the day for a whole week. The office workers who sat for most of the day tended to have larger waistlines, higher BMIs, and unfavorable cholesterol profiles. The researchers also included data on late-night shift work (which has been proven to affect heart health), family history, and age.
Five Hours Sitting Is Not Good For You
For every hour spent sitting beyond five hours, office workers added about 0.2 percent to the likelihood of developing heart disease. In contrast, any amount of walking or standing reduced the chances of having a large waistline and other risk factors associated with a healthy heart.
15,000 Steps Vs 10,000 Steps
But the benefits of the postal carriers who walked the equivalent of at least three hours per day (the magic 15,000) were even better. They had normal BMIs, waistlines and metabolic profiles — in other words, less risk of heart disease. Diets Have Changed, Exercise More
The study confirmed that the 10,000-step goal has not kept pace with modern waistlines and eating habits. The 10,000 steps-per-day goal gets its origins from Japan in the 1960s. Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, then a professor at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare, pegged that goal after concern over obesity rates. That was roughly the amount of steps that would burn about 20 percent of a person’s daily calories at the time.
But diets have changed. Even before the Glasgow study, not all health experts agreed on the amount of steps necessary, and some argue the type of exercise makes a difference as well. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers no step guides at all, preferring instead to focus on 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (which translates to about 8,000 steps).
Of course, any amount of exercise is better than none at all, and it’s important to remember not to be discouraged if you can’t reach 15,000 steps per day or even 10,000 steps per day. But if you’re among those who set out to get the most heart-health protection possible, and you’ve relied on that magic 10,000, you might want to consider the results of the Glasgow postal workers.