The rise and increasing use of pedometers, Fitbits, and other devices to measure activity has brought renewed attention to “10,000 steps,” an idea to help promote physical activity in the United States. And it has some asking: is 10,000 steps enough?
We asked Kristen Sullivan MPH, MS, director of nutrition and physical activity, what she thinks of the “10,000 steps” initiative.
“The push to get Americans to take 10,000 steps per day is very positive, and could help people increase physical activity, a key part of their health. Tracking steps is a simple intervention and can be a motivating factor to get people to increase their activity.
“It’s important to note that people should be aiming to *add* intentional physical activity, above and beyond their typical daily activity, to reach the 10,000 step goal. Many people get 4000-6000 steps just from the activities of daily living. One mile takes about 2000 steps, so adding 4000 steps would be adding about two miles; about equal to 30 minutes of moderate activity. So setting a goal of reaching 10,000 steps is a good way to add activity beyond the typical activity of daily life.
“The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (like jogging), or a combination of these, each week. That works out to about 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 times per week. As long as reaching the 10,000 step goal includes at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, it’s a good way to improve health.
“For people who are trying to lose weight, it’s important to remember that changes in diet, in addition to physical activity, are critical to weight loss. Without dietary changes, one could easily be taking 10,000 steps a day and not lose weight, and might even gain weight. As many diet and exercise experts say” you can’t outrun your fork!”