We were all getting quite familiar with this mantra to do your 10000 steps a day, an idea that seems to have originated from Japanese walking groups back in the 1960s. But just as we were getting comfortable with the idea that we were exceeding this (and giving ourselves a pat on the back) or not achieving this (and feeling the eternal guilt of failure), along comes an article to tell us not to bother anyway. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/21/10000-steps-day-myth-fitness-apps-can-do-harm-good/)
Dr John Jakicic said not everyone was physically capable of doing 10,000 steps. “If you are elderly or infirm then this is not going to be good for you,” he said.
(Sarah Knapton: The 10,000 steps a day myth: how fitness apps can do more harm than good; Telegraph
News online: 21/2/2017)
Health advice is like that though, I have found. You think you are doing the best thing for your health and then they move the goal posts or completely reverse their ideas! What is a person supposed to do?
As a walker, I like walking. I have walked miles and miles and have set myself a goal of 12000 steps a day, a goal which I don’t always achieve but sometimes exceed. My highest ever recorded step count was 66000 in a day (walking the South Downs) and on the Camino last year, my highest was 52000 steps. I am proud of my walking achievements although I don’t walk to clock up the highest number of steps; it just adds another layer to the game that I choose to play. That game? Being in the world, enjoying the world, feeling the wind on my cheeks, inhaling the sweetness of spring blossom and the earthy composting of Autumn. Crunching over leaves and snaking through corn fields.
If a medication existed which had a similar effect to physical activity, it would be regarded as a wonder drug or a miracle cure
Sir Liam Donaldson, The former Chief Medical Officer of England
It’s a miracle cure and a number of articles are telling us this: see https://www.verywell.com/miracle-cure-found-3432678
It can help toward the reduction of a number of illnesses including type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. It can free your mind from the stresses of the day and is the activity least likely to result in injury. A brisk 30 minute walk a day is the minimum recommended and doing this on 5 days adds up to the 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise that NICE recommends for good health. You don’t need anything other than a comfortable pair of shoes and maybe some good company.
So what about this latest article suggesting that 10000 steps is not good? Like all health advice, there is no ‘one size fits all’ advice for anyone with a pre-existing condition. The advice is always talk to your doctor first before changing your lifestyle. But for most people with a sedentary life, its a good start with a mountain of evidence to support it.
For me, I am glad to have a goal which I can challenge every day. And a lifestyle that allows me to walk to great places and see wonderful things, things that I would miss in a car, places where there just are no cars and few people. This year we are planning on walking in Tanzania and scaling a few more munros in Scotland as well as a few other cheeky weekends. But my best walk is my closest and daily walk with the dogs to our nearby park, with its woodland and lake and wildlife.
Where is your next walking trip? Let’s show the world how easy it is to walk!