Fact or Myth: Is 10,000 Steps a Day a Necessity for Optimal Health?

This is a FACT.

It may sound like a lot, but taking 10,000 steps a day is a necessity for optimal health. That’s 5 miles of walking, and the vast majority of us are falling short of this essential movement requirement. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) the average person only takes 3000 to 4000 steps a day.

negative effects of televisionThe Dangers of Sitting

Did you know that sitting for too long and too often has a similar mortality rate to smoking? Living a sedentary life (that means sitting for 8 or more hours a day) increases your risk of death from pretty much every cause—diabetes, cancer, heart disease, you name it! Studies have shown that sitting for 8 or more hours puts you at a 90% increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. And the average American sits between 9 and 10 hours a day!

Exercise Won’t Protect You

While exercise, especially high intensity interval training and strength training, are essential to health, they can’t protect against the dangers of sitting. Even if you go to Crossfit five times a week! But, when coupled with more frequent movement throughout the day, such as an increased commitment to walking more, exercise ensures a higher quality of health.

One study showed that walking every day lowered the risk of stroke in men over 60. Those who walked at least one hour a day slashed their stroke risk by 1/3, and those who walked for three hours a day decreased their risk of stroke by 2/3. Another study showed that walking two or more miles a day decreases by nearly 50% your risk of hospitalization from a critical episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Your Walking Prescription

Dr. James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative and author of the book Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, suggests moving for at least 10 minutes every hour. Get out of your chair and go for a walk. Take a call standing up as you move around your home. Stand up and stretch…maybe even jump some rope!

The sheer act of standing up after sitting for a long time activates vital molecular processes. Studies show that within 90 seconds the bodily mechanisms that process blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides kick in. That’s just from carrying your own body weight! Studies also show that walking, particularly in nature, improves your mood and reduces stress levels.

So get out of that chair and take a walk. Go for one long walk of at least an hour a day, or break your day up into morning and evening walking excursions in order to get your 10,000 steps a day.