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Do you have to do 10 000 steps a day?

Since wearable devices became the staple for many people looking to get, or stay active, throughout the day and reach their goals there has also been a shift in focus towards making sure that you walk or run 10,000 steps a day.

But is there anything to this?

Sure, 10,000 steps would be an ideal amount of steps to do during the day but with work and home life this landmark is actually something that is very difficult for many of us to achieve.

Walking 10,000 steps during the day would mean putting a premium on not only taking the stairs and going for regular walking breaks but staying constantly active as well. Most of us do not work outdoors or on our feet for a large majority of the day, which makes 10,000 steps even more difficult than usual. Sure, it would be lovely to be out and about and racking up 10,000 steps but there is also a suggestion that this recommendation may not be viable for many of us.

Recently, we wrote a blog (link) on workouts that you can do at your desk and at work so that you remain active throughout the day because of the sedentary lifestyle that plagues our society. Sitting at a desk means that your body will be doing a less than average amount of muscle contractions and if you stay in this position too long then it can be harmful to your health and put you at risk of contracting all sorts of diseases from obesity to diabetes.  

We discussed how sedentary time is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality; the strength of the association is most consistent for diabetes. And another identifies a correlation between sitting at work with a desk job and obesity as it contributes to inactivity whereas on leisure days people are more physically active, which you can read more about at your convenience.

So, it’s safe to say that wearables are doing a good job at getting people off their feet and helping to remind them to stay active at regular intervals throughout the day but 10,000 steps? That’s a lot!

The average person should be aiming for 150 minutes of aerobic activity such as brisk walking throughout the week, as well as performing muscle-strengthening activities such as weight training another 2 days, at least, during the week, according to the CDC. This guideline also exists to show how important it is to stay active and work on strengthening your muscles rather than ‘letting yourself go’. In saying that, it is also wise to at least take a break of 10 minutes every 2 hours during a workday because during longer periods of sitting down your body is in a sedentary state.

Research has also been down around the use of wearables in maintaining weight loss programmes. National Weight Control Registry members lost an average of 33 kg and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. To maintain their weight loss, members report engaging in high levels of physical activity, eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends. For some of us, this self-monitoring is difficult and this refers to the potentially important role a wearable plays but don’t feel bad if you can’t get 10,000 steps in. You can aim to achieve this goal incrementally, or on days where you could be doing something else rather than vegetating in front of the television.

Try new things during the weekend such as taking a hike or going to play sport with friends in the park. Just a calming walk around the neighbourhood with your dog for half an hour while admiring all the sights and sounds that you would normally flash past in your car during the week is another way of changing up your routine and reaching that 10,000 steps goal. 

However, another study done regarding wearables found that among young adults with a BMI between 25 and less than 40, the addition of a wearable technology device to a standard behavioural intervention resulted in less weight loss over 24 months. It concluded that devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioural weight loss approaches. With this being said, we can’t discount the impact that wearable devices have had on people on the basis of one study. People respond differently to various sorts of exercise interventions and what works for some people may not work for others.

The same is true with regards to what we at DNAFit offer people. Genetically guided training and nutrition regimes have been proven to work well for people because the retention rate it high with regards to weight loss and building muscle. It is great to see results and a pay-off from all that effort you’re putting in, without the frustration of trial and error, but we must all remember that results take time and the work you put in is what you’ll get out.  

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