You'll have heard about the 10,000 steps daily fitness target. The principle is simple: you walk 10,000 steps a day so you can count yourself active - or can you?
The whole 10,000 steps thing originated from Japan in the 1960s. There was a pedometer available that could count your steps. So, the campaign to persuade everyone to walk 10,000 steps a day began.
Since then, there's been an entire industry built up around it. There are loads of apps and devices that all help you to track your steps.
Smartphones are the perfect tool for this. Stick it in your pocket with the steps counter app running and away you go. Which app? You choose, there are loads of them.
Why are you counting your steps?
There is a sound reason for tracking how many steps you do in a day. It's a measure of how active you've been on that given day.
To walk 10,000 steps, most adults would cover around 5 miles. It goes without saying that if you have walked five miles in a day, you've been active. Right?
So, you are counting your steps as a way to get fit. Or lose weight. It could be both.
all good so far. The thing is, you've also read lots of stuff saying that walking 10,000 steps a day is not enough for your fitness goals.
You may have read that you should ignore it because it is a useless target.
The good news...
If you have spent a long time ignoring your fitness then the 10,000 steps target is fine.
Here's why: it means you'll be moving for at least part of the day. That's as oppose to not moving much at all.
So, getting yourself moving is the aim. One argument you will hear is that getting 10,000 steps in is easy.
You could get them in walking the dog. Or even around your local shopping centre. And on neither occasion did it raise your heart rate much. Or make you break a sweat.
My argument is: yes, but at least you've walked close to 5 miles in one day. If you drive a desk for a living, that has to be a good thing.
In the early days of getting some fitness back and losing some weight, moving is a main element.
The not so good news...
10,000 steps of casual walking won't be enough - in the end. It's a good target in the early days. It's a great target to get you moving. But you will have to up the ante to burn the fat.
The trick to it is this: you need to elevate your heart rate. And you need to make yourself sweat. When those two things happen for a sustained period of time, you are working out.
How long? At least half an hour a day. The more the merrier is the honest rule.
So, you can still do your 10,000 steps. Why not? It's a decent enough guideline to make sure you're moving. But do them like you mean it.
The walking should be as though you are hurrying to an appointment. Get that in for 5 miles and you'll be burning the fat and getting fit.
Runners don't have to worry about this stuff...
Yes, they do.
Here's a scenario: you get your run done first thing in the morning. You might even get your 10,000 steps in at that point.
The thing is though, what happens the rest of the day?
If you drive a desk for a living (many of us do) a burst of activity in the morning is great. But if the rest of the day is static...
So, you can use your step counter to make sure you move in a allocated time. FitBit watches can be set to alert you to move every hour, for example. That's useful for your activity levels throughout the day.
As long as you remember the 10,000 steps thing is a guideline, you'll do fine. It's still a decent target to aim for if being more active is your primary goal.
Remember though, add some intensity to your walks. You need to, if you want the exercise to count for your weight loss and fitness plans.