There is growing concern on what living a sedentary lifestyle does to our health. Is getting 10,000 steps a day the answer to this concern?
Here is a short video from Dr. Abbey Davidson (Osteopath) summarizing everything you need to know about the 10,000 steps a day movement.
In the 1960’s a Dr Yoshiro Hatano from Japan was concerned about the increasing levels of inactivity of Japanese people as they adapted to American-like sedentary lifestyle. He estimated they were currently achieving about 4,000 steps a day and wanted to help persuade them to increase this to 10,000. This increase would burn approximately 500 extra calories and help with weight maintenance. This was then formed into a marketing campaign selling a pedometer. This was so successful the 10,000 steps movement is still talked about today.
The term sedentary is thrown around a lot but what does it actually mean? This term refers to a lifestyle which lacks regular amounts of physical activity. If an individual does not meeting the exercise recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise in a week they are classified as physically inactive. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that up to 85% of the global population does not participate in enough exercise.
Being physically inactive is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. Living a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and depressions/anxiety.
Unfortunately compared to 50 years ago we are a much more sedentary and much less active society. There has been over an 80% increase in sedentary jobs since the 1950’s. A huge contributing factor to this is technology. Technology has lead to a surge in desk based jobs, sitting based entertainment/activities (TV watching, video gaming, etc.) and more convenient travel options than walking/biking.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that 67.4% of Australian adults are overweight with one in four adults are classified as obese. With currently less than one in five Australians clocking up their 10,000 steps a day these statistics are not surprising.
10,000 steps a day It is a clear and easy goal to set to increase incidental exercise throughout the day. Incidental exercise are chunks movement you are doing while performing your normal daily activities (like at work) which accumulate to increase your overall activity that day. This is different to planned activity where you set aside time to perform a certain exercise. Ways to increase your incidental activity or exercise include taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus two stops early and walking to work and holding walking meetings.
30 minutes of planned exercise a day does not automatically counteract the effects of being sedentary for the rest of your day. It has been shown that extended sitting like that at desk-based or driving jobs can in the long term be detrimental to your health. Health professionals are now recommending being mobile throughout your entire day and perhaps getting your steps up to 10,000 is the motivation you need to keep on track. Many smart watches also provide a reminder to get up and move if you have been inactive for too long.
Regular activity and being less sedentary offers many health benefits. These include: increased bone density, increased energy, increased cardiovascular health/fitness and lower risk of diabetes, cancers, mood and cardiac disorders.
Is 10,000 steps a day enough? New studies are pushing for 15,000 steps a day. While the 10,000 step number is a nice round number to advertise; newer studies show that 15,000 steps is what is required to maintain a healthy waistline.
If you are not currently reaching 10,000 steps a day it is still a great number to strive for. If you are consistently achieving your 10,000 a day you should challenge yourself and continue to improve. Whatever your number, health benefits come from when you are consistently mobile throughout your day. So aim to form new good habits rather than fanatically stress about one specific number.
Depending on the size and speed of your steps there is approximately 8 kilometers of distance in 10,000 steps. This may sound daunting but once you factor your incidental activity for a day and add a 30 minute walk you will be close to if not over your step count goal!
The current exercise recommendations for a health adult include a weekly target of:• 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (swimming, walking, yoga)
• 75 minutes more vigorous aerobic activity (running, HIIT, aerobic dancing)
• 2x strength training for each major muscle group
To simplify this even further aim for approximately 30 minutes of planned physical activity each day.
By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson