The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, plus muscle strengthening activity at least two days per week, to promote overall good health for American adults. The CDC even says that ten minutes at a time is all that it takes to reap the health benefits of regular physical activity, as long as you are reaching the weekly guidelines.
So, how did 10,000 steps per day suddenly become such a popular fitness trend? And how does this recommendation stack up against the CDC’s guidelines for weekly activity? The encouragement from smart pedometers and fitness trackers, like Fitbits, to hit a certain amount of steps has amplified this movement of 10,000 steps per day. Yes, walking 10,000 steps or more is great; however, there is not a single number threshold that will turn you into an elite athlete if you hit it or cross it. You will gain health benefits and reach the CDC’s weekly physical activity guidelines by walking less – approximately anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 steps.
Research has shown, however, that more is better. One study found that women who increased their steps to nearly 10,000 per day for 24 weeks reduced their blood pressure, while another study found that overweight women who walked 10,000 steps a day improved their glucose levels. In addition walking can help you maintain and control your weight.
The problem is, most Americans are not walking, or moving around enough. Adults in the United States average about 5,900 steps per day, which falls below the recommended amount of daily and weekly physical activity. Walking less than 5,000 steps per day puts people at greater risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. So, although there is not a specific number of steps that you must hit every day, the important thing is to get up, get outside if you can, and move. Consistent physical activity leads to many health benefits, including improved mood, decreased stress, weight maintenance, and decreased risk for many chronic diseases. Whether or not you are tracking and aiming specifically for 10,000 steps per day, there are still ways to get up and move. See below for some fun ideas!
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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