Walking is good for you, no doubt. It limbers you up, gets your heart going and keeps your lungs working properly. But how much walking do you actually need to do to change your life?
Well, 10,000 steps is the perceived wisdom at the moment … and some even say walking to this number means you can eat and drink what you want – and to hell with any other fitness regime!
But does it work?
First, it isn’t actually a new mantra, it was first vaunted as the best thing since sliced bread by the Japanese way back in the heady 1960s.
They started selling pedometers and called them manpo-kei which literally translates as a ‘10,000-step meter’. Studies, they said, confirmed that people who took steps to improve their lives had lower blood pressure, more stable glucose levels and were always in better moods.
This magic number quickly caught on.
So, should you strive for 10,000 daily steps?
Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book: Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, said:“Walking is the defining movement of a human.”
And there is no doubt it can cut your chances of suffering heart problems, strokes and the elderly are often advised by doctors to take a good stroll every day. And the older you get the more important it becomes – no good sitting around watching mind-numbing telly all day. No, go for a walk, It’ll do you good!
And remember that as walking isn’t actually exercise but exactly what our bodies are designed to do, you can do it every day without needing any recovery days.
Taking 10,000 steps a day means you’ve walked about five miles (or nine kilometres). Sadly, many people don’t even get close to reaching the goal though. According to the NHS, the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day.
So, if you get a modern-day equivalent to the Japanese manpo-kei you may be surprised just how little you do actually walk each day.
It is worth knowing that if you find 10,000 steps a bit daunting you can break it up in to walk-size segments – 3,000 in the morning, similar in the afternoon and the rest in the evening.
Research even shows getting up and walking around for two minutes out of every hour can increase your lifespan by 33 percent. And the recommendation is that you get up and take a ten minute walk every hour.
And did you know there is a regime known as Chronic Sitting and that it is almost as deadly as smoking? The rule of thumb is don’t sit around for more than three hours a day! That one does appear a bit more difficult as there are plenty of legitimate – and natural – reasons for parking your posterior, apart from watching the soaps on telly.
Finally, the good news is that come what may, if you manage your 10,000 steps a day and do them at a relatively good pace all research agrees that you will burn off between 400 and 500 calories a day.
That can only be a good thing!