HOW MANY STEPS A DAY SHOULD YOU TAKE?
Is there a number of steps you should strive for?
How many steps should you do, to be able to consider yourself a healthy human being?
Humans were designed to move. Our body’s want us to “train all day” because that is what our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. Back then it was a simple matter of survival.
If you couldn’t walk 20km a day to your next overnight camp, picking food or chasing animals on the way, you would end up on the dinner plate of something higher up the food chain.
For 2 million years our ancestors have been hunter-gatherers.
It is only since around 10,000 B.C. that we started making the transition to permanent agricultural communities, and it is only in the last 50 – 100 years that our lives have become almost completely sedentary.
Sitting at work, sitting when you travel, sitting watching the TV . . . sitting is becoming our default activity, and it is killing us!
I can hear what you are thinking. “I’m a runner” or “I’m a cyclist” so “this doesn’t apply to me.
Unfortunately, you are wrong. You might be reaching your personal target of 10,000 or 15,000 steps in a day, but if you are achieving it by doing 1 hour of exercise first thing in the morning, followed by sitting all day, it is still not ideal for your health.
Our bodies are designed to walk a lot, and squat a lot, and climb things, and basically to be performing at a low level of movement all day. Some of the movement might be a bit more intense, some of it might be a bit slower, but the most important factor for your overall health is that it should be consistently happening throughout the whole course of the day.
If you are one of the many people who believe that “I do exercise, therefore I’m active and I must be healthy”, you should try to change your mindset into thinking that you need to integrate movement into as many aspects of your day as possible.
Have you ever thought about what do you do in a normal day and a normal week?
How many hours a week do you spend in a seated position?
Write this figure down.
Set yourself a “move more” challenge. It will be interesting to see how much you can change this figure over the course of a month, and better still, over the course of a year.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU SIT TOO MUCH?
- You are more likely to get heart disease and diabetes,
- You are more likely to have a stroke or suffer from high blood pressure
- Your risk of cancer increases
The effects of too much sitting are hard to counter with exercise alone. Even if you exercise 7 or more hours a week you can’t reverse the effects of sitting 7 hours at a time.
Don’t get me wrong. Running, cycling or any other form of physical activity are good for you, but in terms of your overall health and wellbeing, they do not replace consistent movement.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MOVE MORE?
How about integrating some of these fairly easy changes into your daily routine:
- Squat when drink your cup of coffee in the morning. I don’t mean do squats, I mean do the hunter – gatherer squat.
- Every time you answer the phone, walk around the office.
- Take the stairs, not the elevator – every time!
- Sit on the floor at home instead of the sofa. You’ll end up wriggling around a lot more to try and stay comfortable, and there is a lot more movement involved in getting up and down off the floor than there is off the sofa.
- Put your water bottle on the far side of the office instead of on your desk, so you have to walk every time you need a drink.
- Use the bathroom farthest from your desk.
- Get off the train or the bus one stop early so that you have to walk further too or from work every day.
- Get a standing desk – If you stand at your desk instead of sitting for 3 hours each day, you’ll burn an extra 650 calories a week, or 30,000 in a year which is the equivalent of running 10 marathons in a year!!
“Move More”. I don’t mean run more or ride more. I mean move more. All day.
Let’s start with a month, but then hopefully turn it into three months, and then a year. Once you’ve done a year it will hopefully have become a lifetime of simple daily habits.
Let’s see how much difference it makes to your average step count.
You don’t have to reach a particular target, but who doesn’t like a goal. If you start integrating some of the daily habits I suggested above, you’ll be amazed how much of a difference it makes to how you feel.
THE STEPS PER DAY CHALLENGE
Choose a level you feel is achievable and calculate your average per day at the end of a month.
Beginner – 10,000 steps
Intermediate – 20,000 steps
Advanced – 30,000 steps
If you don’t have a watch that will measure your steps, you can download an app on your phone which will do the job nicely.
Here are some ANDROID Pedometer App options
Here are some iPhone Pedometer App options
Before you start
Calculate your “baseline” level of steps. That will give you a good idea of which level to choose, and it will also be the figure you use to calculate how much you have managed to increase.
Keep track everyday if you can.
At the end of your 30 day challenge, let us know how you got on and if you can notice a difference in your mobility, weight or general well being.
For more ideas, on improving your fitness, check out this 3 minute morning stretching ritual. It has changed many peoples lives for the better. In only 3 minutes a day.