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Sunday, July 25, 2021

The 10,000 reproach

Recent research has challenged the 10,000-steps-a-day fitness dogma. It’s liberating

By: Editorial |
Updated: July 8, 2021 7:56:33 am
Usually, though, the punchline barely makes a dent in the armour of smugness that seems to protect fitness enthusiasts.

If you walked 10,000 steps and your FitBit didn’t record it, did it really count? There’s a whole category of jokes like this, taking potshots at the near-universal mania for recording 10,000 steps in a day. Variations on the joke include people refusing to get out of bed because their fitness band is charging or having a breakdown when they realise that they climbed up multiple flights of stairs without first turning on their pedometer. Usually, though, the punchline barely makes a dent in the armour of smugness that seems to protect fitness enthusiasts. After all, they are still getting in 10,000 steps more than the rest of us who are, to put it politely, horizontally-inclined.

But guess what? Turns out, the “10,000 steps a day” recommendation is not so much gospel as spin. Research over the last few years, including the findings from a decade-long Women’s Health Study presented recently at an American Heart Association conference, shows that walking anywhere between 4,500-7,500 steps a day is good enough for fitness and longevity, after which the health benefits start to plateau. The whole fad seems to have originated with the words “Manpo-kei”, which was the name of a pedometer sold in Japan in 1965 and which, when translated to English, means “10,000 steps meter”. Not surprisingly, the publicity campaign for the device urged people to walk 10,000 steps a day and because everyone loves a round number — no matter how outrageous — the marketing slogan became widely-accepted fitness dogma.

So, no longer will our health conscious brethren have to furiously pace around the house at bedtime in order to make up their (almost impossible) daily goal, nor will they now fret over whether or not the fact that their multiple smoke breaks are being recorded as “steps” is technically cheating (it is). This is the day we join them in celebrating their liberation from that most reproachful of all numbers: 10,000.

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