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?
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 1960s, 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” which translates as "10,000 steps meter".
The watch's motivation and simplicity made it become very popular in Japan and it remains popular to this day, so much so that the Japanese government have provided an accuracy measure of 3% 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 campaign is being backed by huge federations such as the NHS, World Health Organisation, American Heart Association and the US Centers for Disease Control.
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.
A 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.
How far is 10,000 steps?
The average person has a stride length of 2.1 ft, or around 60cm, meaning it takes around 2,000 steps to walk a mile, so 10,000 steps to walk 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, but adding a walk into your daily routine will definitely help.
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.
Research also studied the effect of lunchtime walks on the 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.
Sundried ran a poll and found that out of 256 people, 174 of them prefer to train in the morning while 82 prefer to train in the evening. But does it make a difference to performance? Or is it just personal preference? We take a look.
Best time of day to exercise for maximum weight loss
While there is no conclusive proof that training before breakfast aids weight loss, it is true that working out in the morning sets you up for a good day and will leave you burning more calories over the course of the day. However, after firing up your metabolism early in the morning, you will find that you are hungrier than normal throughout the day, so make sure you don't reverse the positive effects by overeating to compensate.
Another benefit to working out in the morning is that you are more likely to have more energy and therefore work harder during your training. As such, you will unconsciously burn more calories than you would doing a half-hearted workout after a tough day at work.
Best time to exercise to gain muscle
Studies have found that the body's strength and flexibility is actually at its peak in the late afternoon and that this is also the time when our perceived exertion rate (how difficult we find the workout) is at its lowest, meaning you are more likely to find the workout easier at this time.
That said, if you have been sat at a desk under artificial lights all day, chances are you will be tired and hungry and going to do a big strength session will be the last thing you want to do.
Research has actually found that the body adapts to regular workout times, so if you always hit the gym after work at 6pm, it will eventually perform better at that time than any other time of day. The best thing you can do, therefore, is go when suits you and make sure you eat plenty throughout the day to fuel you ready for your big session after work.
Is it better to train on an empty stomach?
Research is inconclusive on whether training fasted actually has any benefits when it comes to losing weight. However, if you are a long-distance endurance athlete, such as training for a marathon, doing fasted cardio is good for training your body to undergo exertion with low glycogen stores. What this does is prepare you both physically and mentally for those times in endurance work when you are running low on sugar stores.
However, by training fasted you will compromise on performance and you will most certainly find your workout harder. Therefore, it is good to train on an empty stomach every now and then to prepare for endurance sports, but other than that there is no proof to support training on an empty stomach for any other reason.
Related: Should I Train Fasted?
Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?
So, it seems there are arguments for working out both in the morning and the evening. In the end it will always come down to personal choice.
Benefits of training in the morning
- You will be more fresh and ready to train
- You can train fasted before breakfast
- You will burn more calories throughout the day
- You won't need to worry about fitting in a workout after work
- You are less likely to skip your workout
Benefits of training in the evening
- Research shows we are stronger and more flexible at this time
- You will not be rushed for time
- You are more likely to be able to train with a buddy
- You will benefit from the extra energy of eating throughout the day
- You are more likely to sleep better
There is a lot of discourse surrounding cardio, weight training, and rest days. No two people will give you the same answer, and there is a lot of debate to be had. So should you be doing cardio on your rest days or not?
How important is a rest day in working out?
Firstly, the question of whether you should do cardio on rest days very much implies that you primarily train using weights, because if you were running or cycling as your primary training principle, you wouldn't consider doing even more cardio on your rest days. So let's assume you train 4 times a week lifting weights, which leaves 3 potential rest days a week. You may feel like not doing anything at all for 3 days a week will mean that you won't make as much as progress as if you were more active, but rest is just as important as hitting the gym! When you are lifting weights, you are actually tearing your muscles. It is only when you eat, sleep, and recover that your muscles are repairing and growing back bigger and stronger than before. Therefore, taking a rest day is very important in working out. If you continue to train when you are feeling very sore and achy, you could potentially injure yourself and do more damage than good.
How much should you rest between workouts?
This differs from person to person. If you have only recently started training or have started a new regime, your body will need longer to recover as it becomes accustomed to the stress and strain. The longer you have been doing a particular sport, the less rest you will need as muscle memory starts to kick in; it's important to mix up your training so that you continue to see results. As a general rule, you should not train a muscle group that is already aching. If your legs are sore, you could still do an upper body workout for example but it would not be wise to go for a long cycle or do a spin class. Listen to your body as that is always the most important thing.
So as for doing cardio on your rest days. That depends on your individual goals. If you primarily want to build muscle, you do not need to do cardio on your rest days. However, if you want to strip fat and keep your cardiovascular fitness up, it is recommended you do a light cardio session like a run or swim between weight sessions. You should always have at least one day a week where you do absolutely nothing though so that your body has a chance to keep up and fully recover.
Read more: Rest Day Cardio Workout
From marathon runners fuelling with cocaine to running a marathon backwards, we look at some of the most crazy fun facts about running.
1. Runners used to drink champagne as an energy drink
It may seem crazy and dangerous to runners today, but back in Victorian times it was thought that alcohol was a performance enhancer. It is thought that this tradition dates all the way back to Ancient Greece and China. Incredibly, they would also take drugs such as heroin and cocaine to enhance their performance, something that is unthinkable today.
We now know that alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration, meaning it is the complete opposite of what you'd want while running an endurance race, especially in hot weather.
Imagine getting to the aid station during a race and being presented with this!
2. The World Record for running a half marathon backwards is 1 hour 40 minutes
Think your half marathon PB is good? Could you do it backwards? German Achim Aretz set the World Record for fastest half marathon running backwards in 2009 in Essen, Germany.
3. Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon in 4 hours 29 minutes
Over the course of her training, she lost over 70lbs in body weight and slimmed down to an athletic frame of 150lbs (68kg). Other notable celebrities to have completed a marathon include former US President George W Bush in a time of 3:44:52 and Bryan Cranston (better known to some as Hal from Malcolm in the Middle and Walter White in Breaking Bad) in a time of 3:20:45.
4. You can run a marathon in the desert, at the North Pole, or even around Mount Everest
Man's insatiable desire to forever beat yesterday and achieve more than ever before has meant that running races are getting tougher and tougher every year. It's no longer impressive to say you've run a marathon. These days, it's notable to have run an extreme marathon.
The Marathon Des Sables is a 150-mile ultra marathon in the Sahara desert and is one of the most popular and desirable running races in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mount Everest marathon starts at Everest Base Camp and runs to Namche Bazaar. Conditions can be very challenging, especially due to the altitude, and runners are required to spend at least 3 weeks in Nepal before taking part so that they can acclimatise first.
5. The winner of the 1904 Olympic marathon completed most of the course in a car
The third edition of the modern Olympic games took place in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. It was the first time the Olympics had taken place outside of Europe and only 12 countries participated.
The marathon event went down in history as a complete disaster, as sweltering heat and dusty tracks meant many of the competitors had to pull out. One such competitor who suffered from the conditions was Frederick Lorz. He pulled out after 14.5km (9 miles) and got his coach to drive him the rest of the way in a car. However, the car broke down and Lorz walked back into the stadium on foot.
As he entered the stadium, the crowd cheered him as the first finisher and he was crowned the winner. He played along until it was later found that someone else was the true winner.
We all know that exercise is great for shedding those extra pounds, but what about all the other amazing benefits? Exercise can improve your mood, your skin, and even your sex life. We take a look.
1. It'll take you to places you never would have gone otherwise
Have you ever signed up for a race just because it's in an interesting place? This is a very common occurrence, as travelling somewhere for a race gives it more purpose and you may well have a chance to see it in a way regular tourists wouldn't. For example, there are races in the UK that follow disused railway tracks that are closed to the public, as well as races that take place on private property like farms and manor houses.
Not to mention, if your preferred form of exercise is hiking, trekking, or trail running, you will be able to see stunning locations away from roads and towns that can only be accessed via the trails. The view is always worth it!
2. Meet like-minded people and make new friends
It can be hard to make new friends and forge new relationships as an adult. Apart from work colleagues and family, there are not many opportunities to make meaningful new relationships. Going to a gym or joining a running club can be the perfect way to find like-minded people who all have the same goal and experiences. You may even find people going through the same struggles as you who can act as a support system.
This will motivate you to continue exercising and soon it will be one of your favourite social activities. There are many people who frequent gyms just to chat and see friendly faces. Sports like CrossFit especially are exceptionally community-oriented and are all about supporting each other and cheering each other on.
3. Ability to do daily tasks more easily
If you've never exercised, chances are you may get a sore back from bending down to load the dishwasher or sore arms from carrying the shopping. By building up both your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, you will find that daily life is much easier to navigate.
Functional fitness is a type of training specifically designed to improve your body's natural functionality and the movements mimic everyday activities. However, simply by lifting weights and doing regular cardio, you will find that chores and keeping up with your kids are infinitely easier. You'll no longer get out of breath walking up the stairs or running for your train, and the vacuum cleaner won't feel as heavy!
4. You will live longer
Many of us are guilty of living in the moment so much that we don't think ahead to the future. If you have children and grandchildren, you want to be around as long as possible to watch them grow and enjoy a happy, healthy life with them. However, if you do not live a healthy lifestyle, your time with them will be greatly reduced.
Not only this, exercising regularly will improve your quality of life and can keep your immune system healthy and strong.By doing strength work, you will increase your bone density and therefore reduce the risk of bone fractures in old age. You will also be far more mobile as you age and will be able to enjoy your life much more.