Back in June I met Dr Michael Mosely at a health conference in London. He’s a really interesting guy; he does the ‘Truth About’ and ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ programmes on the BBC – which I love to watch. He was talking about how the idea of 10,000 steps has become the big thing in improving fitness and everywhere you look someone has a fitness tracker attached to their wrist. We’re spending a fortune on them. But do we need them?
Is the 10,000 steps regime a myth?
The idea that 10,000 steps a day improves fitness is not actually based on science. It’s a myth that came about from a very clever marketing campaign. In the lead up to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, a company developed the ‘Manpo-Kei’ which literally means a 10,000 steps meter! The aim was to get Japanese people active by upping their steps from 4000 to 10,000 a day, burn more calories and not put on weight. And that’s how the regime was born. Dr Moseley isn’t convinced it’s the best way to improve fitness and I agree with him. Read on and see what you think.
What’s the alternative?
I struggle to do 10,000 steps a day on a regular basis. And if I do, I get hip pain! I know that’s down to iliotibial band syndrome (the tendon in my thigh gets inflamed). And while I might tell myself to do more strength training on my glutes, if there’s a better way to fitness I’ll give it a try. For me that’s an activity which is easy to do and takes less time out of my hectic day. Are you looking for a route to improved fitness that’s easy and doesn’t take up too much time? When Dr Moseley explained the benefits of Active 10, a walking program with lots of health benefits that is really easy to do, I was hooked.
What is Active 10 and how it could work for you?
Active 10 is a brisk walking programme. Basically, you walk briskly for 10 minutes starting with one and build up to three walks a day. It’s easy to fit in; get off the bus earlier, walk to the shops, park further away from the school gates. Is that something you could try? Walking has amazing health benefits; it makes you feel better, gives you energy and can help with lower back pain. Did you know in the long-term it can reduce your risk of illnesses such heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers?
Where’s the evidence that it can work?
Dr Moseley did a small experiment, comparing Active 10 with 10,000 steps in terms of how easy they are to do and the health benefits of each. Six volunteers were split into two groups. One group had to do the 10,000 steps which is about 5 miles a day. The other group followed Active 10, doing three brisk walks in a day which amounts to about 3000 steps, or 1.5 miles. I could see straight away that’s much more doable. The results confirmed it; all the 10,000 steps volunteers struggled to do them and one didn’t manage it. The Active 10 group found the experiment relatively easy. How easy do you think it would be for you? You’ll only know if you give it a go.
But what about health benefits?
Even though the Active 10 group moved for less time, their ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ was 30% more than the 10,000 steps group. And it’s the level of intensity that makes it healthier; the Active 10 group spent less time moving but got out of breath and increased their heart rate. I can definitely fit in three short, brisk walks a day and the fact that’s better for my health than 10,000 steps is the icing on the cake. Does that make Active 10 something you could try?
Do you really need to splash out on expensive fitness trackers this Christmas?
Christmas is such an expensive time anyway, why would we want to spend on things we don’t need when we can improve our fitness for free? And with a programme that’s more achievable. Active 10 is a great way to burn off all those extra calories we consume at this time of year and get into a fitness routine that’s easy to keep up in the long term with all the health benefits that go with it. Think about your New Year’s resolutions: how many Active 10 days could you put on your list?
So why not give it a try?
The festival of winter walks runs from 23rd December to 7th January, a great time to give it a go. Get together with family and friends and find out the benefits for yourselves. You can download the free Active 10 app on the NHS website. The app tracks how much brisk walking you’re doing and how you can do more to improve your health.
Maybe you won’t need that fitness tracker you put on your Christmas list after all!
Till next time, hugz