Walking

HOW MANY? 10,000 may be an arbitrary number but the general consensus seems to be that if it encourages us to move more, then counting steps isn't bad. PICTURE: Brett Mez/www.freeimages.com

The inclusion of pedometers in digital devices has seen the idea of taking 10,000 steps a day to remain healthy gaining ground around the world. The concept has been around for a while – it was apparently first popularized in Japan in the 1960s when pedometers (known in Japanese as ‘manpo-kei’) were in demand among members of walking group. Numerous studies have since shown the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day – such as lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease – but it’s also worth noting that many experts have pointed out there’s nothing “magical” about the number 10,000 other than it’s nice and round (most health authorities around the world don’t have a minimum daily step count guideline, rather they tend to recommend minimum amounts of exercise in terms of time). And while increasing activity is usually a good thing (particularly in the sedentary world in which we now live), experts have also pointed out that counting steps doesn’t necessarily account for other types of movement, and that the types of steps taken – are they slow or fast, long or short? – are also important (the American College of Sports Medicine have reportedly gone so far to say that step counts aren't accurate measures of exercise quality and shouldn’t be used as a sole benchmark of physical activity). Still, while 10,000 may just be an arbitrary number, if the challenge of reaching it each day gets us moving that little but more than we were, that’s generally seen to be a good thing.