Let’s get Physical! Physical!
Getting and staying fit has really taken off! It has become more popular in the last several years. We’ve come to really embrace the fitness lifestyle, turning it into less of the standalone lifestyle that it was in the 80s and more of a part of every other lifestyle.
We’ve started looking more closely into what we eat, more intelligently deciding on what to incorporate into our routines, and even wearing specialized watches that keep track of our biometrics and our movements. That last development coincided with the widespread belief that we have to take 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy.
Not many know this, but the whole 10,000 steps idea came from the practice of using Japanese pedometers in the 1960s. The term “manpo-kei” means “10,000 steps meter”.
This is a neat little trivia bit because otherwise, it’s often a source of confusion where the nice round (and pretty steep) number of 10,000 comes from. Of course, over time, the number has become a solid goal backed up by up by research, which has shown that if partnered up with healthy lifestyle choices it can help reduce the likelihood of various chronic illnesses, including metabolic syndromes, heart disease, and diabetes.
All this sounds like a great deal in exchange for essentially walking a lot. But does it need to be a solid 10k?
Give Up Now? No Way!
We might feel a bit guilty about not meeting that target, and some have even been known to give up if they can’t make that particular number — some even before trying it, already thinking their little attempts won’t make a difference.
The good news is that while the numbers we need to do before we see results are still significant, they’re far from impossible to do. (If you think about it, you actually go through a heck of a lot of steps a day, and 10,000 is probably not very far away from what you’re currently doing).
So all these second-guessing moments where we talk ourselves out of giving it a shot don’t need to be how we end up at all!
The even better news is that 10,000 isn’t a hard and fast number, although it is a perfect one. The American Center for Disease and Control doesn’t outright specify 10,000 as the magic number, but it does note that 150 minutes of activity a week (that comes to about 30 minutes a day) is quite helpful.
As per research, adults trying to meet that target have been known to reach a count of 7,500 steps a day, which is already a great start. Some even hold that you CAN do 10,000 steps without leaving the house! Check this video out!
As such, 10,000 could already be seen as an even higher level of activity rather than a minimum. Going above and beyond that range brings in even more benefits: a recent study in Scotland notes that postal workers walking 15,000 steps a day were shown to have much fewer heart disease risk factors.
Not a bad deal. In any event, the main thing is to get moving.
HOW TO GET MOVING
First, get yourself a pedometer.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy watch, as old-school pedometers do a perfectly good job at keeping track of your steps. The important thing is to have a counter, as beyond the actual task of counting the steps the pedometer will help you stay interested in the movement.
When you can actually see what you’ve already accomplished and got a feel for how close to the goal that is, it’s a valuable mind-conditioning thing. Motivation is an easy thing to get going.
Do simple things to build up those steps.
Going to work, the grocery store or the mall? Park at the end of the lot and walk the rest of the way. That’s additional steps going there, and additional steps going back. Merely taking the scenic route is also sure to add steps by definition. Then while actually at work, take a short break — 5 to 10 minutes won’t go amiss — every hour to break up your sedentary block of time and give your body some physical activity to break that inertia. These steps will already add a reasonable degree of physical activity to your previous tally.
Build up the steps incrementally.
You don’t have to hit 10,000 right off the bat. First, getting the pedometer will give you an idea of how close or far you are to that goal (or the more manageable 7,500). Once you have a concrete idea of where you are, you can then make the necessary tweaks. The whole idea of the steps is to set a goal to get you moving.
You can start by getting yourself into the 3,000 to 4,000 step range, which is already notable in terms of increase for someone living a sedentary lifestyle. You can increase from there.
Take it slow and pace yourself.
You don’t want to injure yourself by shooting for too much too soon. Physician Michael Roizen puts it best when he says “the goal is to do four more steps today than you did yesterday.” This is an excellent way to ground the idea of increased physical activity, keeping it realistic and reasonable enough to help avoid overtaxing yourself and putting yourself in harm’s way.