Get Fit with 10,000 Steps

10,000 is the magic number for anyone with a fitness tracker, but why 10,000. What's the trick to this magical digit?

With more and more people tracking their every move with fitness trackers, what can 10,000 steps really do?

Step Counting with Garmin

History of 10,000 Steps

The recommended 10,000 steps that we see so regularly on our wrists today actually ventured over from Japan. In the 19060’s Japanese Doctor Yoshiro Hatano was concerned about the rising levels of obesity in the Japanese people and so began to research the activity of the people of his culture. The doctor and his team found that the average person  walked 3,000 - 5,000 steps a day. His research found that in order to burn just 20% of their daily calorie intake, most people would need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day.

Dr Hatano then created a pedometer called the “Manpo-Kei” meaning 10,000 steps meter.

The watches motivation and simplicity made it become very popular in Japanese culture and it remains popular to this day, so much so that the Japanese government have provided an accuracy measure which all pedometers must reach, of 3% accuracy for all pedometers sold in their country.

Fast forward to today and the 10,000 steps per day is being backed by huge federations such as the NHS, World Health Organisation, American Heart Association and the US Centers for Disease Control. It’s the number at everyone's wrist.

Research supporting 10,000 Steps

Today research has proven that tracking your steps can increase your daily activity and help to improve health. Research published in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine trialled the use of Fitbit as a physical fitness intervention in inactive, postmenopausal women. After 16 weeks of monitoring their activity with a Fitbit, those who wore a Fitbit were significantly more active than the control group and wore the tracker 95% of the time.

Research into the  Influence of changes in physical activity on frequency of hospitalisation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease published in Respirology found that walking for two miles a day or more can cut your chances of hospitalisation from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about half.

Another study by The American Stroke Association found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was. Taking a three-hour  walk each day slashed the risk of stroke by two-thirds.

Walking is often underestimated as studies show that simply moving around that bit more can have an array of health benefits. However, we’d say walking isn’t exercise, more essential movement, like drinking water, we need it to stay healthy.

Since walking isn’t exactly exercise but essential movement you can do it everyday without needing any recovery days for your body to repair and regenerate, so it doesn’t require recovery time and the older you get the more important it becomes.

How far is 10,00 Steps?

The average person has a stride length 2.1 ft, or around 60cm, meaning it takes over 2,000 steps to walk a mile. To put it in a clearer perspective, 10,000 steps equals about 5 miles. A brisk 10 minute walk? 1,000 steps. The average inactive person walks anywhere between 3,000 to 7,000 steps a day, so for most reaching 10,000 steps would involve adding a 30-60 minute walk to their daily routine.

How many calories will I burn if I walk 10,000 steps a day?

A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly. If you're trying to lose weight, walking is very low impact and the real difference will come from your nutrition, you should aim to reduce your daily calorie intake by around 500 calories and look for nutrient rich whole foods.

10,000 Steps helps reverse the dangers of Sitting

Part of the 10,000 steps charm is that it gets you up and out of your chair, as sitting for too long has been found to increase your risk of death from multiple health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Research has shown that sitting for more than 8 hours a day is associated with a 90% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Aiming to reach 10,000 steps simply just by getting up and moving more can reduce your risk of these health issues. Sundried created the concept EHOH, every hour on the hour we get up and move for 5 minutes, doing a 5 minute workout which can be anything from a jog around the block to mountain climbers. For more on EHOH visit here:

Research also studied the effect of lunchtime walks on effectiveness of employees at work and found that lunchtime walks improved enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness at work.

Walking was also found to improve quality of life for depressed middle-aged women. Those who averaged at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or just over 3.25 hours of walking each week reported feeling more energised and more social at their three-year follow ups.

For more in depth research see here:

If you’re ready to buy you next activity tracker, why not read some of our reviews here:

Whilst 10,000 won’t get you super fit, it’s a step in the right direction.