Do You Really Need 10k Steps a Day, or is Your Tracker Deceiving You?

With each passing day, thousands of people add fitness trackers to their wrists in the hopes of reaching their 10k steps a day goal. This step count has long been considered to be the target we should aim to achieve in order to be healthy and fit.

Where Did the 10k Steps a Day Goal Come From?

However, have you ever taken a moment to think about where the 10k steps a day goal came from? Is it really the number of steps the average person needs to be healthy? What research went into coming up with that figure?

Believe it or not, the 10k steps a day target was nothing more than a part of a clever marketing campaign. The figure first came up in Japan in a marketing strategy to sell pedometers.  The figure was not at all based on medical research. Despite this fact, it is almost universally accepted as the ideal standard number of steps a person should take to achieve health, fitness and weight management.

Why Step Goals Aren’t Everything

Pretty much every fitness tracker to hit the market has a pedometer. Moreover, a considerable number of them default to 10k steps a day as their goals.  That said, the number of steps you obtain on a given day shouldn’t be enough to let you decide whether you’re as active as you should be.

Steps can help to be a guide, but they’re not enough on their own. After all, there’s a big difference between the fitness impact you’ll receive from steps you accumulate from running and the ones you get from walking across the living room.

There’s a big difference between the fitness impact you’ll receive from steps you accumulate from running and the ones you get from walking across the living room.

Moreover, most international and national health organizations give their exercise recommendations in time and intensity.  For instance, 150 minutes of medium to high intensity exercise per week.  A goal of 10k steps a day doesn’t reflect that.  The reason is that all steps, regardless of intensity, are treated equally.

Use Your 10k Step Goal Wisely

Fitness trackers, even those that continue to value a 10k steps a day standard, are being developed to better gauge the intensity of a workout. Many collect data such as step count and frequency as well as heart rate in order to help determine the intensity of a workout. As of yet, they struggle with accuracy, but they are headed in that direction.

Until they can better measure what you’re doing, it’s important to look at your 10k steps a day goal as one to ensure you’re moving around more frequently and not necessarily to determine if you’re exercising enough.  This is a good way to know if you’re getting up every hour and moving around instead of remaining sedentary. However, your workout targets should be measured separately.

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