fitness, walking, step count, 10000 steps, exercise, weight loss, health , weight management, pedometer

10,000 Steps a Day: Everything You Didn’t Know

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We all know what it means: walking 10,000 steps is the recommended daily step count to prevent obesity or prevent regaining weight after a dieting or weight loss program. 10,000 steps is approximately the same as 5 miles a day for the average walker. This level of walking has a load of tremendous benefits, from weight management to lowering blood pressure, from reducing stress to improving sleep. Here are 4 ways the 10,000 step goal might have different effects than you knew.

10,000 might not be enough for weight loss. Most people that google calorie loss information will find that walking burns 100 calories per mile, meaning that 10,000 steps a day burns about 3,500 calories per week. This, however is based on the false assumption that walking and running a given distance burns the same number of calories. A study cited by Runner’s World demonstrates that depending on how strenuous your activity is, 10,000 steps a day may burn anywhere between 2,500 calories and 4,300 calories per week. A pound of fat requires 3,500 calories to be burned (more than the number of calories you are likely to burn in a week if all your steps are accomplished through walking). So if you’re walking 10,000 steps a day and treating yourself to some icecream at the end of the week, odds are you are only maintaining your weight. In order to achieve weight loss, some of those 10,000 steps need to be achieved more strenuously (through running, speed walking, hiking, or playing games). Or, you can try to increase your daily step count to increase that calorie burn. Research has shown, for instance, that overweight adolescents should actually be aiming for 11,700 steps a day to reach moderate-to-vigorous activity standards.

There’s a gender difference post childhood. This same study that Runner’s World calls to attention demonstrated that the same number of calories burned for women were on average lower than those for males. More specifically, males burned an average of 124 calories per mile when running, and 88 while walking, whereas the females burned an average of 105 calories while running a mile and 74 walking. This difference may easily exist due to weight and BMI differences between the average male and average female. However, another recent study also demonstrated a difference in step count between the genders: showing that although both genders tend to have a lower step count as they age, this step count reduces much more steeply in females than in males.

Having a sedentary job isn’t the end of the world. Recent research analyzed groups in terms of both their job style (sedentary or non-sedentary), and their physical activity level (active or non-active). Believe it or not, those with both non-sendentary jobs and an active physical lifestyle did not have a significantly higher step count or lower BMI than those with a sedentary job yet active physical lifestyle. The only difference seen in BMI and step count was for those that have both a sedentary job and are inactive. So remember that just because you have to sit at a desk all day, you can still be appropriately active!

Using public transportation helps your step count. Not only does public transportation help the environment and decrease wear and tear on your car, it has been shown that people who use public transportation actually have a greater step count than those who use private vehicles. This shouldn’t seem surprising, as those with public transportation often have to walk to their bus or subway stop. If you are unable to use public transportation to get to work, try using public transportation whenever possible (like going out to dinner or running errands). Otherwise, try parking your car in the back of parking lots, and always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or if you have street parking, try parking your car further down the street instead of right next to your house, forcing yourself to walk to your car each morning. Small changes like these will quickly increase that step count.

Overall, the 10,000 step goal is a great one, with a wide array of health benefits. So get walking!

Adams, Mark A., Susan Caparosa, Gregory J. Norman, and Sheri Thompson. "American Journal of Preventive Medicine." Translating Physical Activity Recommendations for Overweight Adolescents to Steps Per Day 37.2 (2009): 137-140. Web.
Tudor-Locke, Catrine, Nicola W. Burton, and Wendy J. Brown. "Leisure-time Physical Activity and Occupational Sitting: Associations with Steps/day and BMI in 54–59 Year Old Australian Women." Preventative Medicine 48.1 (2009): 64-68. Web.
Barreira, Tiago V., John M. Schuna, Jr., Emily F. Mire, Stephanie T. Broyles, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Catrine Tudor-Locke, and William D. Johnson. "Normative Steps/Day and Peak Cadence Values for United States Children and Adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006." The Journal of Pediatrics 166.1 (2015): 139-43. Web.
Burfoot, Amby. "How Many Calories Are You Really Burning?" Runner's World. N.p., 18 July 2005. Web.


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