The journey of 10,000 steps

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I don’t know how many of you tuned in to watch Katie Hopkins earlier in the year telling us easy it was to lose weight and ‘proving’ this to us by deliberately putting on a stack of weight and then shedding it all again in a matter of weeks. I shouted at the TV screen a few times, I can tell you, especially when she kept blaming fat people for making her go through this ordeal of proving her point! All that aside, I did gleam one very useful point from all she had to say, and that was concerning the aim of covering ten thousand steps a day. She insisted this was ‘easy’. I maintain that it is not! However, I have researched this and am convinced that it is a worthwhile thing to do. Let me explain why and tell you something about my journey so far…….

 

Why walk 10,000 steps a day
The origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren’t exactly scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed under the name “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter,” The idea resonated with people, and gained popularity with Japanese walking groups.

 
Experts, including the NHS, say that while 10,000 steps a day is a good number to reach, any amount of activity beyond what you’re currently doing will likely benefit your health. Health benefits resulting from this activity can include weight loss, increased physical activity and reduced blood pressure.

 
Additionally, those who walk between 5,000 and 10,000 steps a day are 40 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that can predispose you to diabetes and heart problems. If your step count is 10,000 or more per day, you are 72 percent less likely to develop this condition

 
It is recommended that people using pedometers first set short-term goals, such as taking an extra 1,000 steps daily for one week, and then build up to a long-term goal such as 10,000 steps.

 
There’s not a single strategy to increase your step count, each person has to find what works for them. The most important thing is to increase your activity beyond what you were doing before. Any amount of activity that you can do today that you didn’t do yesterday, you’re probably going to start benefiting from it.

 
Ways to increase your walking count
Here a few suggestions gleaned from the internet and I have added a few of my own under the subsequent section. Please add your own ideas in the Comment box at the foot of this page.
• Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend
• Walk the dog
• Use the stairs instead of the elevator
• Park farther from the store
• Better yet, walk to the store
• Get up to change the channel
• Window shop
• Plan a walking meeting
• Walk over to visit a neighbor
• Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding

 
My personal journey
I had put on a couple of pounds over Christmas and just cutting out those foods I had treated myself to over the festive period wasn’t working. After watching the Katie Hopkins experiment I decided that perhaps I could try and increase my metabolism through more exercise and wondered about whether seeking to do the Ten Thousand Steps a Day challenge might be the answer. I hadn’t owned a pedometer for many years so promptly went out and bought one. I had fully expected that my normal day’s activity would be well on the way to this target, so I was horrified to discover that in actual fact when I was working and on my feet for a full 6 ½ hours I only managed just over 5,000 steps. (My work involves lifting, carrying, bending , stretching etc – so it isn’t all bad!) But on a Sunday, when sometimes my only exercise had been to walk from the car to church and back, I had covered less than 1,000!! This had to change!

 

The first thing I did was to include a two mile walk from my home to work (three days a week) so I decided that when the weather was fine I would walk instead of taking the car – this clocked up about 4,000 steps. However, I need to be well organised for this as it takes me 40 minutes instead of five minutes to take the journey. British weather being what it is I have found several reasons (excuses?) for opting out, but do hope to be more committed as the weather (hopefully) improves.

 

I have also taken to a somewhat wacky routine of jogging on my vibration plate machine for ten minutes every morning.( These contraptions are supposed to have all sorts of health benefits, from helping to strengthen bones to toning muscles, to releasing cellulite so I got one for a song off ebay to try it out.) I’m not sure that one is supposed to jog on the machine, but I have found for myself that whilst I can’t jog for more than 200 metres normally, and neither can I sustain jogging up and down on the spot on my carpet for any length of time, that doing so on the vibration plates is very sustainable. So whilst Dave, my husband, is in the bathroom, I pop downstairs and, setting the speed on high, go for a ten minute jog-on-the-spot. To enhance the experience I grab a couple of cans from the larder and perform various arm exercises at the same time. This isn’t a pretty sight, but I can chalk up almost 2,000 steps in next to no time, have both an aerobic workout and tone muscle, and start the day feeling invigorated – and ready for a good breakfast!

 

Another quick way I have found to boost my numbers is to perform step-ups on the bottom stair during the TV commercials. A three minute break can clock up a healthy 400 steps, leading to over 2,000 steps in short bursts over one hour! (Make sure you lead with the leg you have the pedometer over or your results will appear halved!)

 

So have I reached my target 10,000 steps? I have to confess, that in spite of these antics the answer is usually no. If I do the morning routine, and walk to work and include a further half hour’s walk somewhere in my day, then I get there, but usually it is between 5,000 and 8,000 steps. But at least I am self-aware now and am not prepared to abuse my ‘day of rest’ with a meagre 1,000 steps on top of a substantial Sunday dinner!

 

What is it that they say?…… A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So are you ready, boots?

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