Throughout August, I decided to walk or run at least 10,000 steps a day, every single day. By August 31, you’d taken 376,000 steps in total (or about 12,100 steps per day, on average). The question is: Is walking this much every day important to your health? How many steps do you actually need?
Since moving from New York City to California, I’ve spent a lot of time indoors, thanks mostly to (a) the pandemic and (b) my writing-from-home job. My average daily steps have been closer to 5,000 steps, pulled much higher than reality with 2-4 runs a week which is well over 10,000 steps.
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My body didn’t have a proper compromise between sitting and running. So, armed with my trusty Garmin watch, I decided to see what a positive impact a daily walking routine could have on someone who was mostly sedentary.
It turned out that walking 10,000 steps a day had a significant impact on my weight, resting heart rate, blood pressure, and general fitness level for running.
Not sure how continuous This will be a routine or overall improvement – as I’ll explain below – but my experience has shown me that achieving a consistent number of steps is really more important to my personal health than just running every other day. And I recommend you put on your favorite fitness smartwatch and start walking on your own!
Do you need 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy?
Last July, I wore six smartwatches for 6,000 steps to test how accurate the watches were at counting steps. In that article, I made the offhand comment that doctors advise you to walk 10,000 steps a day, but without delving into that claim.
Several commenters have informed me that this figure was a “Marketing Myth” It was prepared by a Japanese fitness company in 1965. It is assumed that at least 3,000 steps of brisk walking, or 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day, is more than sufficient, and the health effect of walking plateaus before 10,000 steps.
I was surprised by this, so I went to search for recent scientific data on this subject.
the Journal of the American Medical Association He conducted a study that found significant health benefits for seniors walking 10,000 steps, reducing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and the chance of premature death in general. the National Institutes of Health found that three months of 10,000 steps per day lowered the average systolic score in middle-aged hypertensive patients by about 10 points.
But they did Need To reach 10,000 steps for this benefit?
Consumer Reports She pointed me to the many scientific studies that point to the benefits of daily walking — reducing sleep apnea, regurgitation, dementia, depression, and obesity, for starters — but note that for older patients, you get the same benefits with 6,000 to 8,000 steps. For younger people, the plateau has reached 8,000-10,000 steps.
the The New York Times made a similar argument. For people age 70 and older, even 4,400 steps per day reduces the chance of death by 40% versus 2,200 steps per day. However, switch to middle-aged people and you will need 8,000 steps per day to reduce the death rate by 50% compared to people who walk 4,000 steps. The benefits beyond that were “minor”.
So yeah, 10,000 steps might be a random marketing number. But you have to get Close to this number until you reach a certain threshold of 60 and over where fewer steps have the same benefits.
In theory, you should Aim for 8,000 steps daily to your long-term health. For this experiment, I chose to stick with 10,000, just to see how applicable it would be in the midst of daily work, chores, and life.
Monthly walking/running stats
I set the Garmin Forerunner 965 with a daily walking goal of 10,250 steps. I chose this number to give me a small level of accuracy; Although Garmin watches proved to be the most accurate in our pedometer test, any The smart watch will have false positive steps throughout the day.
I’ve found that I typically walk about 2,000 steps per mile—though this varies by speed—which means I have to walk about 5 miles (increase or take a half-mile) to reach 10,000 steps. I tried not to take random steps in the house into account for the sake of the experiment.
To get to a decent Zone 1 heart rate (50-60% of my max), I’ve been trying to hit a 14-minute pace, but often come close to 15-16 minutes per mile on my recovery days after running.
So this daily routine will take about 70-80 minutes, plus the time it takes to put on your workout clothes and get home (since you rarely get injured). exactly 10,000 steps once you get home), take a shower, etc. It could be a bad time, in other words.
By the end of the 31st day, you’d have taken 376,000 steps, or about 200 steps. Total mileage – which averages about 1,900 steps per mile. Of these, about 65 miles came specifically from running, or about a third of the total distance.
In other months, I averaged closer to 5,000 to 6,500 steps a day. My total mileage was 80-100 miles, with about the same amount of miles running (50-60), which makes August a huge step forward (pun intended).
While I’m not sure how accurate Garmin’s calorie estimates are, I usually burn about 500 calories by the end of my brisk 5-mile run. Multiply that by 7 days, and you get 3,500 calories, which is the supposed number you need to lose to lose 1 pound. Not sure how valid this scale is, but this is an experiment an act It corresponds to some noticeable weight loss.
Health stats before and after 10,000 steps per day
At the beginning of August, I weighed 217.6 lbs. By August 31, I weighed 210.6 lbs. In terms of body composition, the percentage of body fat decreased from 25.4% to 23%. The upper limit for “healthy” males is 19%, so closing the body fat gap has been really encouraging.
In general, I’ve been trying to snack and drink less in the past two months, and I’m sure this has something to do with my better health – for example, I lost two pounds in July. But losing seven pounds this month, despite eating plenty of takeaway meals and a carb-packed family dinner at Olive Garden, shows that regular walking and running made a real difference.
Cardiovascular health also improved. I don’t have hard numbers because my running distorts Garmin heart rate averages, but my resting heart rate when sitting at my desk dropped from the mid-to-high 60s to lows in the 60s and then to highs in the 50s by the end of the 60s. Month.
Before the 10,000 Step Test, my average morning systolic blood pressure readings were around 114-125. On August 31st I got a measurement of 109/65. Garmin’s heart rate variance readings (lower heart rate equals higher stress levels) increased slightly, too.
Another benefit of walking every day is that it has helped my body stretch and recover after a hard days running. Instead of always needing a day or two of rest after a hard run, I’ve found that I can now sometimes run for two days in a row without suffering the effects of overtraining.
My VO2 Max has gone from 47 to 48 in the past month, too. This is mostly due to a tougher running schedule with more anaerobic training on the track, to be fair. However I have found that if I walk thousands of steps after During a hard run, I hit a higher heart rate zone than I would during a normal walk, which gives me a low training load that is beneficial for enhancing my fitness.
To thwart those who would claim that my running had improved my health: yes, of course it was, to some extent. But I’ve been running for years while staying overweight for my height. It was a combination of running, constant walking, and better eating habits that helped me start going downhill for the first time.
Challenges of walking 10,000 steps every day
August’s choice to walk 10,000 steps a day was simultaneously the best and worst choice I could make.
Long days mean I have time to cook and eat dinner after work before going for an evening stroll while avoiding the oppressive sun. But I’m still sweating a lot because of the humid weather. This may have made my rounds more efficient, but they can also be annoying.
The problem is that as the days get shorter, finding the right timing to walk during the work week is especially challenging when you’re not someone who works out in the morning and does your fair share of housework and cooking. Even in August, by the end of my 80-minute runs, it’s often quite dark, and it’s only going to get worse later in the year. I feel safe in my neighborhood, but not everyone will want to walk alone at night.
Also, anyone who is not used to frequent walking should prepare themselves for some nasty blisters and nasty toenail problems. I will not include image evidence here; You’re welcome.
Perhaps the biggest challenge I deal with on my daily rides is that they get it very boring after a while. Ninety minutes I could have spent decompressing with video games or a good book, walking down the same road over and over again. I did my best to find audiobooks or podcasts to listen to and used to call the family a lot to try and fill in the transcripts.
My other issue is that as I get fitter it becomes harder to walk fast enough to get my heart rate into zone 1. So, even though I’m burning calories, I’m not sure if it counts as “moderate activity” or not if my body He doesn’t get particularly tired of it.
My trick was to run or jog a few miles, which would get my heart rate up. Then, as long as you kept moving, your walking heart rate needed more time to drop to a normal level, making the same walking pace have a bigger impact.
Eventually, I’ll probably continue my walking habit but give myself a few days off a month and set my goal for steps lower—maybe 7-8,000—because the longer, more rigorous running days will balance them out and give me the intensity minutes I need.
Even though I’m a bit tired from walking, I’m thankful that this 10,000 steps a day experiment forced me to be more active on my non-running days, and helped improve my physical health both in the short and long term. While I don’t like how smartwatches can guilt you into poor fitness choices, it turns out that the pressure I put on myself to keep my step count on Garmin was more positive than negative.