Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

10,000 Steps A Day May Do More Harm Than Good

Take a multivitamin every day. Drink a glass of OJ to fight off the flu. Avoid fatty foods. And get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be healthy.

Or so many of us were told.

Many of these wellness maxims have been around since before the internet and smartphones. So it’s no surprise that modern technology has upgraded our traditional views.

One of the new rules to enter our book of health came from the discovery of the pedometer:

Walk 10,000 steps a day. 

A motto we quickly embraced as the ultimate health goal without really knowing what made it so special. 

If you’re anything like me, you probably figured some sports scientists came up with the number after some extensive research.

But as it turns out, there was no group of nerds or research involved.

The six figures actually came from the first wearable Japanese pedometer called the Manpo-kei, which translates to 10,000-step meter.

Throw a bunch of ad money into the mix and you’ve got a worldwide trend.

So why did the Japanese manufacturer latch onto the number 10,000?

Some sources say because it seemed like a figure that was indicative of an active and healthy lifestyle. While others claim it’s because the character for 10,000 slightly resembles a man walking.

Hardly arguments you’d find in a scientific journal.

So what do the scientific journals say about this daily fitness goal?

That the health benefits have been blown out of proportion.

Yes, 10,000 steps a day is great for losing weight, lowering heart risk and increasing overall levels of fitness. But it’s also a dangerous amount of exercise for the chronically ill, the elderly and those used to sedentary lifestyles. Plus, it’s not feasible for those who live in unsafe neighbourhoods.

For most, however, the 8 kilometre (or 5 mile) walk is so intimidatingly large that they don’t even start because they think doing less won’t make enough of a difference.

And that hits the core of the issue.

You don’t need to do 10,000 steps a day to reap the most important health benefits.

If you can get 8 kilometres or more a day, great. But if you’re sitting on your ass most of the day, even a little walking will do your body a lot of good.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach