How many steps a day are healthy?
Anyone who has ever had anything to do with pedometers knows: 10,000 is the magic number. 10,000 steps per day is roughly equivalent to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.
But closer analysis shows that the recommended number of steps of 10,000 per day goes back to an advertisement by a Japanese manufacturer of pedometers from 1964. In contrast, recent studies by the Harvard Medical School show that as few as 7,500 steps per day could have a comparably beneficial effect, with a lower risk of fatality and protection against cardiovascular disease.
Setting realistic goals
Nevertheless, the advice of many experts remains: the more steps, the better for your health and body. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Even if you don't manage 7,500 or 10,000 steps a day at the beginning, the important thing is to increase your personal daily step count.
Only resolve to do what you can maintain on a long-term basis. At the beginning, for example, just take 1,000 steps more each day. You can’t change your habits overnight, so it’s important that you achieve small successes and don't find yourself wanting to give up.
Don’t forget the fun factor
If your aim is to increase the number of steps you take per day, you’re going to have to give up a few comforts. The classic method is to take the stairs more often or get off the bus one stop earlier. But there are also ways of increasing your steps and doing something you enjoy at the same time.
Certain everyday activities can be combined with a healthy walk: swapping the latest gossip with a friend, taking photos or listening to audio books or music. Do any of these and the kilometres will take care of themselves.
A daily walk also stimulates brain cells, and is a good idea when you want to learn vocabulary, hold a meeting with a work colleague, or come up with a creative idea.
Probably the most effective way is to get a dog. Their enthusiasm for walking is contagious!
Replace TV period dramas with visits to a museum, or detective series with geocaching searches.
Finding the right pedometer
Many gadgets are quickly bought and just as quickly cast aside. Before making your purchase, give careful consideration to how you want to use the device. The market range is wide: from the simplest pedometer to high-tech fitness trackers, there’s something for everyone.
What to consider before making your purchase
- What data do you want to measure?
Based on the number of steps and step length measured, even simple devices can calculate factors like distance covered, calories burned and every active minute. Certain devices also measure sleep patterns, heart rate and altitude, distinguish between normal steps and sporting activities, and send users call alerts, text messages and calendar notifications.
- Do you want to store and analyse the data on your smartphone or computer?
Some providers automatically synchronise the data with an internet user profile or via an app and offer customers the option of comparing their own performance with others.
- Wrist, pocket or waistband?
Think carefully about how visible and stylish your pedometer should be so that you enjoy wearing it.