So you’re religiously using your FitBit, Jawbone, or your fitness tracking device of choice and think you’re all set because the fitness gods are looking out for you by doing extensive studies on how 10K steps a day will keep you uber-healthy for life?
Not so fast, My Pretty!
The reality is that the rule of 10K steps a day (equivalent to about 5 miles) wasn’t established because of extensive experiments done on distance walking and health. It was actually adopted because of an invention by a Japanese man. In 1965, Dr. Yoshiro Hatano developed an early version of a pedometer called the “manpo-kei,” which means “10,000 steps meter.” Somehow because of its name and translation, 10,000 steps became the gold standard in health and wellness and was adopted by the most popular of fitness tracking devices. Pretty wild, huh?
It’s important to keep in mind that any amount of fitness is awesome and gets you into better shape. And studies have found that the more you track your activity, the more you’ll work to reach your goal…and continue working. The making and tracking of goals and a system of accountability has been the recipe for success in so many areas of business, wellness, and in life. So it’s great to track yourself and move more. However…you can’t just count on 10,000 steps a day to keep yourself healthy and pardon yourself from any more or other forms of exercise. In other words, don’t think “Oh I did my 10,000 steps, now I’m done and can sit on the couch for the rest of the day/night.”
To be completely healthy, your body needs a mix of the essential components of exercise: Strength, cardiovascular, balance, agility, and flexibility are some of the most important. Your body is at its strongest when you include activities that incorporate all of these things in them daily or weekly. Activities like weight training for strength, hiking for cardiovascular health, core training for balance, functional training for agility, and yoga for flexibility.
A great workout schedule for the week would look something like this
Of course there are workouts that can include multiple components of exercise in one session. Boxing, interval training, and rebounding can accomplish that.
You overachievers can also opt to do split sessions, where you do two types of exercise in one day–a hike in the morning and strength training in the afternoon, for instance.
It’s also important to try to mix up the types of activities you do that incorporate these components. For example, choose hiking one week for your cardiovascular workout and try spinning the next week. Or do weight training for your strength training the first week and switch to Pilates the next. Studies show that changing your activity often not only keeps your body the healthiest but also ensures program adherence.
In other words, you won’t get bored off your butt and ditch your workout.
10,000 steps a day is great…but it’s only a start. Look past your personal fitness horizon and trample over it by walking more and doing lots of other things…more.