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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 1st August 2018

10,000: The Magic Number

Stepping up your daily distance.

The magic number when it comes to exercise is hailed as 10,00 steps. If you’re into health and wellbeing, you’ve no doubt come across the argument for the positive benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day. With the increasing popularity of wearable fitness trackers, it is a concept that’s as relevant as ever. However, with many of us working in sedentary jobs, it can be a struggle to hit this daily goal.

It is believed the notion of 10,000 steps started in Japan, in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. With the population gripped by Olympic fever, pedometers – devices that count how many steps you take – became very popular, as the health-conscious Japanese people started keeping track of their activity levels.

One Japanese pedometer manufacturer came out with a device called manpo-kei – meaning 10,000 steps. The idea took off and 10,000 steps became the standard for daily fitness, not just in Japan but around the world.

Most of us aren’t reaching anywhere near 10,000 steps a day – the equivalent to approximately five miles. According to the NHS, the average British person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day. While there’s no need to pressure yourself to achieve the full 10,000 steps, it’s a good goal to work towards. After all, studies have recognised the health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, better blood glucose levels and improved mood.

If you’re new to exercise, 10,000 steps may seem an insurmountable challenge to begin with, so you may want to build up your fitness gradually. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to aim for, say, 4,000 steps a day to begin with, then add 1,000 extra steps every few weeks until you reach the magic 10,000.

Step it up!

If you’re a busy professional, you may be wondering where you’re going to find the time to put in five miles of walking a day. Look for opportunities to move: if you live close to your office, walk to work. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Make an effort to walk over to speak with colleagues, rather than email. Or why not use a kitchen on another floor to make a tea round?

Simply setting a reminder to get up from your desk and walk around the office every hour could also boost your step count and ensure you’re not sitting at your desk for long periods of time.

Overall, it’s proven that people who are more active during the working day experience a 22% increase in fitness, and a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions compared to sedentary colleagues.

Take this opportunity to change your work style and incorporate physical activity into work meetings, while encouraging your colleagues to be more productive and fun.

Everyday activities

Walking is not the only way to increase your step count – even things you may not think of as exercise can help, such as gardening, housework and shopping.

To help you work out how to achieve 10,000 steps, check out our quick guide (above) to activities you can easily fit into your everyday routine – and the number of steps you can achieve per minute by doing them (all step counts are approximate).

• For more information and tips on staying active and boosting your health and wellbeing, visit www.caba.org.uk

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