A text by Laurie Allard, NeuroMotrix intern
You have surely heard it many times, it takes 10,000 steps a day to be considered active. This represents about 8 km in total. This is true for the majority, but not necessarily for everyone.
For people who have limitations due to a particular health condition, like chronic pain, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease or other, a more modest goal of 7,500 steps per day seems more realistic. Ideally, in order to obtain beneficial health effects, one should walk a certain number of steps at a speed that increases the heart rate. Of the 7,500 steps taken in a day, at least 3,000 should be taken at a moderate to vigorous intensity. This means that walking should make you feel short of breath, increase body heat and make you sweat. Concretely, when walking at moderate intensity, shortness of breath should allow you to continue speaking, but make it difficult to sing. And when this walking is of vigorous intensity, shortness of breath is marked and it becomes more difficult to hold a conversation.
A goal of 7,500 steps per day, achieved consistently, can lead to increased energy expenditure as well as reduced abdominal obesity, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk, (Tudor-Locke, C. . 2011).
For most people, however, the goal of 10,000 remains the ideal target. But be careful, we must aim for a gradual achievement of this target. A person who averages 1,000 steps in a day should not attempt to step 10,000 overnight. This target can be achieved, but by adding a few more steps each day or week. Depending on where you are starting from, it could take 8, 10, 12, or even 16 weeks to reach your desired 7,500 or 10,000.
A person who does not have a particular health condition that restricts their mobility should aim for 10,000 daily steps, of which approximately 7,000 are taken in the regular activities of the day (traveling, cleaning, etc.) and 3,000 + in a brisk walk, performed at a moderate to vigorous intensity.
It is difficult to take such a large number of steps while going about our daily lives, which is why you should plan to add activities and trips that involve walking. Here are some tips to make it easier:
Slaght, J., Sénéchal, M., Hrubeniuk, T. J., Mayo, A., & Bouchard, D. R. (2017). Walking cadence to exercise at moderate intensity for adults: a systematic review. Journal of Sports Medicine, 2017.
Tudor-Locke, C., Craig, C. L., Brown, W. J., Clemes, S. A., De Cocker, K., Giles-Corti, B., … & Oppert, J. M. (2011). How many steps/day are enough? For adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8(1), 79.
Tudor-Locke C: Steps to better cardiovascular health: how many steps does it take to achieve good health and how confident are we in this number?. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep. 2010, 4: 271-276. 10.1007/s12170-010-0109-5.