In the last few years there has been an increased awareness and “buzz” surrounding getting 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps equates to roughly 5 miles and it may surprise you to learn how few steps you actually take a day. The average person only takes between 3 and 4,000 steps a day. To track how many steps you take you can use a simple pedometer, a smart fitness tracker – like a Fitbit or a Garmin, or a smart phone, many smart phones have a pedometer feature built in as long as you take your phone with you when you walk.
Health Benefits of 10,000 Steps:
There are many benefits to striving for 10,000 steps a day.
The first benefit is that by striving to reach 10,000 steps a day, you are far more likely to pay attention to your activity and health levels. You become more aware of what you do throughout the day and are far more likely to take that 30 minute walk instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
The more you weigh the more likely you are to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Additionally, being overweight puts an unnecessary strain on your bones, joints, and muscles. Weight plays an important role in joint stress, so when people are very overweight, it puts stress on their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints, like the knees, hips and ankles. Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees. Taking 10,000 steps can help you to lose and maintain a healthy weight, when combined with a proper diet, and can help relieve this joint strain and lessen your chances for other diseases.
Strengthen Bones and Muscles
Weight bearing activities help make your bones grow stronger – and walking is one of the best weight bearing exercises for a beginner. Many people who start and stick with an exercise program, such as walking, report less disability and pain, and as they age are able to remain living independently longer than their counter parts. Strengthening your bones and muscles will help you to improve your balance and coordination, which is extremely important for lessening your chance of falling as you age.
For the average person, 10,000 steps a day is a lofty goal and you may want to jump right in and go from 3,000 steps to 10,000. After reading about the many health benefits that can be gained from such a simple activity, we can’t say that we blame you: but it is important to take some injury prevention considerations into account. Going from 3,000 to 10,000 steps is a drastic difference and it will be best for your health to add these steps gradually. Start small and build slowly. The idea of “starting an exercise routine,” can seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. Begin with a 15-minute walk. Feeling good? The next day, do it again. If you’re feeling strong, add five or 10 more minutes. Work up to 35 minutes by the end of the week.
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretches into your routine. Start your walk at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few warm up / flexibility drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with the slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention.
It is also important to listen to your body and differentiate between harmless twinges and pain that indicates that there is a problem. If you believe that you have suffered from an injury, call The Orthopedic & Shoulder Center to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lawrence Li to evaluate and treat your injury.
Tips for Getting 10,000 Steps:
It may seem impossible to get to that coveted 10,000 but hopefully these tips will help.
- Park further away from the entrance. This will force you to get more steps while walking into the building.
- Take the Stairs. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is an easy alternative that allows you to get more steps.
- Join a community. If you have a fitness tracker like Fitbit or Garmin, there are online communities that you can join to complete with others to reach a step goal. You can also challenge friends, family and even your coworkers. The employees at Orthopedic & Shoulder Center have weekly step challenges from time to time.
- Go for walks. This one may seem obvious but with summer coming, now is a great time to grab a friend and get in the habit of going to walks.
- House Maintenance. If you have a push mower and can mow the lawn, you can get up to 2,000 steps every 15 minutes. Similar to mowing the yard, vacuuming can help you to meet your step goal. The average person takes 94 steps every minute while vacuuming.
Even if you can’t manage 10,000 steps a day, any increase in activity can be beneficial to your health. Orthopedic & Shoulder Center wants you to lead a healthy lifestyle and we hope that you take the time to increase your step count each day.