Take 10,000 steps a day, is it really the miracle solution to staying healthy? According to the latest WHO recommendations, this figure is not suitable for all types of health, nor for all situations.
So, to help you keep fit on a daily basis, we will try to see more clearly about this “magic formula” of 10,000 daily steps, with supporting studies.
- A figure called into question by several studies
- What do these 10,000 steps/day actually correspond to?
- A symbolic goal
- But then how many steps per day minimum?
- 10,000 steps per day: for whom? Why?
- What alternative to 10,000 steps?
- Conclusion: do you have to take 10,000 steps a day?
A figure called into question by several studies
Our connected watches and dedicated mobile applications encourage us to move regularly throughout the day. With one goal in mind: to take 10,000 steps a day. But why is that? Where does this so important figure come from (at least in appearance)?
What do these 10,000 steps/day actually correspond to?
Let’s be specific. 10,000 steps correspond to approximately 7.5 km, that is to say, a little over an hour of active walking per day. Depending on your situation and your work, sedentary or very active, this may seem like a difficult number to reach or in your strings.
In terms of calories, 10,000 steps correspond to a loss of between 300 and 400 kcal, which is far from negligible.
At first, glance, walking 10,000 steps a day is therefore beneficial, but we will now see that the reality is a little more complex than that.
A symbolic goal
Dr Catrine Tudor-Locke ‘s Health at the University of Massachusetts Monitoring Center (United States) has recently questioned this goal of 10,000 steps daily. The reason? For her, this is only a symbolic number that cannot be adapted to all situations.
For example, if an overweight diabetic or a senior decides overnight to take 10,000 steps a day, this can be dangerous for him (heart risks, ligaments). He must therefore go gradually, but since the WHO presents the 10,000 steps as the minimum goal to be reached, he may want to cut corners, get injured and find himself even more sedentary than before.
Conversely, the 10,000 steps may seem overwhelming to others and discourage them from taking the plunge.
But then how many steps per day minimum?
In his interview with the Guardian, Professor Locke recalled that below 5,000 steps per day of activity, the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease increased drastically. To have a protective effect, and to be able to do the activity without any danger and without getting discouraged, she, therefore, gives the minimum figure of 6,000 steps.
For most people, that works out to a goal of just over 30 minutes of walking. To fill it up, going to work, shopping and walking your dog are more than enough.
10,000 steps per day: for whom? Why?
Of course, these goals are primarily for overweight people or the elderly. If you’re young and active and want to increase your calorie deficit, taking 10,000 steps a day is a great option. Walking for an hour a day can thus be a means of:
- complete intense physical activity (bodybuilding, combat sport, etc.);
- serve as an active recovery mode.
- resume sport slowly after an injury.
- punctually counterbalance excess food.
- maintain physical activity during periods of demotivation (or confinement, for example).
What alternative to 10,000 steps?
If you don’t want to walk for more than an hour a day, there are alternatives to the 10,000 daily steps. For those in a hurry, it is always possible to run these 10,000 steps to make them faster. In addition, it will increase the number of calories burned.
If you are overweight or if you don’t like to walk, another good alternative can be the bike (classic or elliptical), much less traumatic for the joints.
Finally, if you want to optimize your time, HIIT is the solution that allows you to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.
Conclusion: do you have to take 10,000 steps a day?
For sedentary people who want to resume activity, the 10,000 daily steps represent too much walking. It will be more profitable for them to start with 6,000 steps and gradually increase.
But if you are in good health, and have an hour a day to kill, don’t hesitate! You will only have beneficial results.