Have you heard of or been told that you strive to walk 10,000 steps a day? The reasons behind the number may not be grounded in science, but the benefits of getting exercise in the form of walking certainly are. Keep reading and learn more about the benefits of getting more steps in, and find products to help you keep track and stay motivated.
Why Should We Walk 10000 Steps a Day?
What is this number based on? Scientifically, nothing. Its roots are in Japanese walking clubs and it was actually a marketing campaign designed for a pedometer named “manpo-kei” which was introduced in 1965. The term literally translates to 10,000 steps/day. Based on your stride length distance between your feet as you walk, 10,000 steps averages to five miles.
Cognitive Benefits of Cardio: Walking
Even though its foundation was less than scientific, 10,000 steps has become a goal to strive for. Numerous studies have shown that any increase in distance walked has tremendous benefits on both a person’s physical and mental health. One study showed there is an inverse relationship between the number of blocks walked/energy expenditure and cognitive decline. Another study showed the following impact of starting a walking program:
- Men who walk at least 2miles a day are 1.8 times less likely than sedentary men to develop dementia over a 6 year period.
- Increased physical activity is associated with reduced incidence of dementia.
- Association of physical activity and cognitive function is apparent even when exercise is limited to later life.
Simply engaging in a walking program provides numerous cognitive benefits. Walking, along with cardiac exertion, facilitates production of nerve-protecting compounds; increases blood flow to the brain; improves development and survival of neurons (neurogenesis); decreases risk of heart and blood vessel diseases and overall is a marker for a healthy lifestyle.
Tips for Tracking and Assessing Steps per Day
While 10,000 steps a day is a great goal to strive for, any increase in walking distance, will have health benefits regardless of how old you are. The use of a pedometer/step counter allows anyone to objectively quantify their attainment of whatever walking goal they establish for themselves. Here are some great tips for keeping track of your goals and all the steps along the way:
- Purchase a pedometer or fitness tracker that fits your needs. There are a wide range of options available, and many come with other tools and measurements that you can use to track your health and fitness levels on a daily basis.
- Keep a log next to your bed. Each night, check your pedometer to see how many steps you got in that day. With this log, you can track which days you tend to get more steps in and use it as a way to find patterns in your exercise habits.
- Once you’ve discovered patterns or have set a goal for steps in a day, brainstorm ways to hit that goal. Whether you take an extra lap around the block or walk around the mall a few times each week, there are lots of ways to increase your daily steps and even have fun at the same time.
- Give yourself a goal and a reward that comes with meeting that goal. If you want to reach a certain number of steps in a month, come up with an appropriately sized reward for meeting that goal. Once you have hit your goals several times in a row, the extra daily steps may be more of a habit than a chore.
More Benefits of Incorporating Exercise for Older Adults
Motivation doesn’t always come in the form of weight loss, but the mental and other physical benefits of including exercise in your daily routine are certainly worth considering. Check out the other blogs on our site to find more information about the potential benefits of including exercise and keeping track of your health and fitness levels.