Walking 10,000 steps can be bad for you according to articles recently published by The Telegraph, The Mirror and even reported on my Sky News. From that limited scope one could also conclude that sunshine may not be all its cracked up to be, red meat may cause cancer and being single might help me live longer.
Thankfully in Six3nine we like to put things in perspective before pushing out blanket statements. Admittedly we struggle to condense all of the important information into one concise article without veering on other related tangents that run parallel to the topic at hand. With that in mind, let’s get a better grip as to why using 10,000 steps on a global scale will more often that not, be much better for your health, wellbeing and possibly your waistline.
A simple glance at google and we can find a plethora of articles that will tell you that “on average 10,000 steps equals about 5 miles, a distance in which you'll burn approximately 500 calories. If you take 10,000 steps every day, that translates to a total of approximately 3,500 calories burned in a week, the number of calories in 1 pound of fat.”
While that is may be a simplification for the facts the concept reigns true. More movement is directly linked to increase calorie expenditure. With the huge rise of sedentary based lifestyles from work to leisure our physical inactivity is becoming more and more of a risk to our overall health.
According to John Hopkins medicine, the lack of physical activity has been shown to increase instances of cardiovascular disease and other conditions such as:
High blood pressure
Coronary heart disease (even after researchers accounted for smoking, alcohol use, and diet)
Anxiety and depression
The risk of certain cancers
To say that increasing our physical activity yields life changing benefits would be an understatement. Not only can we decrease many risk factors for debilitating diseases but also proactively look after our mental health.
A meta analysis of 158 studies over 30 years has shown us that exercise positively affects our mood. Along with a host of other chemical transactions occurring, a release of chemicals called endorphins occur when we exercise. These endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain, trigger a positive feeling in the body (similar to that of morphine) and give us the “high” often described by runners.
Leaving all of this aside we can cannot ignore the reason a large portion of people indicate for initiating an increase of exercise which is to change their physical appearance, most notably a decrease in body fat percentage. The key is a reduction in overall weight is understanding of energy balance.
If we take in more energy (from calories) than we use (via movement, thermobolic effect of food and essential functions within the body) we will be in a surplus, if we use more than we take in we lose weight. Simply the more we move, the more energy we use! Increasing our daily steps is a sustainable, manageable and unintimidating way for us to increase our energy consumption to deliver on an energy target.
The name usually associated with this type of non essential energy consumption is NEAT or non-exercise Active Thermogenesis. It's a combination of your normal daily activity like walking around the house, taking a shower or even one's general perpetual restlessness, on top of biological processes necessary in the body. Basically anything that uses energy (burns calories) that isn’t “intentionally” exercising. NEAT is so large in fact that it will typically outdo a standard gym session. It is for this reason increasing NEAT is often used by physique competitors to increase their energy demands to reduce body fat in preparation for stage shows.
To relay this back to the notion that walking 10,000 steps may not be beneficial is for most of us, short sighted, irrelevant or irresponsible. In a society where activity is significantly lower than it has been for our grandparents any increase in movement is not only well needed but well received from all working components of the body, mind and spirit.