Is 10,000 steps per day the Magic Number – Leisure Insurance?
The aim of taking 10,000 steps every day to increase health and fitness. Ask a group of people what they should be aiming for every day and many will respond with that magic number. Although it is not an official recommendation by any Irish health organisation or government body, it is what you would hear most people say if you asked them.
It has certainly come to the fore with the use of smartphones tracking your moves, so that you know how many steps you have taken.
10,000 steps is about five miles or 8km a day, and most of us should be able to do it. But it is a bit one size fits all approach. A reasonably fit 25-year-old woman and an overweight 60-ear-old man with high blood pressure should not both be expecting to have the same exercise regime.
Irish activity guidelines for adults aged between 18 and 64 are at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity five days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Counting steps can certainly help towards this.
Evidence to support the number is vague. A 2011 review of relevant research studies came to the conclusion that
“no study to date has systematically evaluated dose-response effects of different steps/day goals”,
Some of the experts have diverging views. Galway GP Liam Glynn whose interests are also on bringing technological solutions to healthcare through connected health.
He says that 10,000 steps is “potentially arbitrary” but is very effective in terms at changing behaviour.
Consultant in respiratory medicine at the Mater hospital, Prof Sean Gaine, is also the chief medical officer for the Irish Olympic Team. He thinks the idea is to get people to engage with physical activity. But the level could be too high for some. Having a mentor to help you with your steps is important, as doing these things on your own can be quite difficult.
Sports coach Kevin Croke has a degree in sports science and health, and thinks the 10,000 steps goal is basically wrong. It is a standard that cannot be used by everyone.
It can mean that people do not try to stretch themselves which is part of the intention of physical exercise.