Have you set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day? You’ve probably heard from fitness pros and even your doctor that walking 10,000 steps per day will keep your heart healthy, help you lose weight, and boost your fitness level. And it’s true: walking 10,000 steps per day is a good amount to strive for in order to stay healthy. But when it comes to actually losing weight from walking, there are other factors involved. Are you consistently moving throughout the day or just crashing on the couch after those 10,000 steps are reached? How fast are you walking, and at what intensity? It turns out that speed, intensity, and consistency actually matter more than just a number of you’re serious about weight loss. Let’s explore where the idea of 10,000 steps came from and the other factors you may need to consider if you really want to change your body.
Why 10,000 Steps?
10,000 steps isn’t a magical number. In fact, its origins date back to a 1960s marketing campaign (sigh…doesn’t everything?) Shortly after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games (and partially because of excitement generated by the events) consumers in Japan started snatching up a pedometer called the manpo meter. The word “manpo” translates to 10,000 steps. Japanese fitness enthusiasts began to count their daily 10,000 steps to boost their health.
Image Credit: Yamasa Tokei
In recent years (and since the rise of Fitbits and other wearable activity trackers) researchers have studied that recommendation and found that indeed, walking ten thousand steps per day can boost heart health and improve overall wellness—with two caveats.
Firstly, since not everyone is a walker, most health experts and organizations (like the American Heart Association) have now expanded the recommendation to simply ask that you participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, whether it’s walking, swimming, biking, or another form of cardiovascular exercise. Secondly, if serious weight loss is your goal, don’t confuse the 10,000 steps recommendation with a serious weight loss program. While getting in your steps is important, the speed and intensity with which you move will matter more than a particular number when weight loss is your goal.