Is 10,000 Steps The Right Fitness Target For You?

Gunning for that 10,000 step number on your fitness tracker or pedometer can be frustrating when the weight loss doesn’t follow. Should you be chasing 10,000 at all?  

It Isn’t As Simple As Hitting 10,000 A Day 

According to reports, the number 10,000 first popped up in 1964 in Japan, when a clever marketing campaign for a pedometer called Manpo-Kei hit the market. “Man” in Japanese is 10,000. The idea was to get people from their 4,000 step average a day to 10,000, which would burn about 500 more calories a day and get people slimmer. The idea stuck! 

The magic number could just as well be 8,000 or 9,200. But it is likely to vary depending on your lifestyle, diet, health, and general activity levels. 

So if your primary goal is weight loss, how do you make it happen?  

Set Your Weight Loss Exercise Goals And Get Moving! 

If you are looking for some tangible numbers, here’s how to ensure your workout gives you results.

1. Get your heart beating faster 

While a lower resting heart rate (when you are sitting still and relaxed) is better, during exercise you should aim to get your heart pumping!  

Aim at the appropriate target rates for your age and goals using this grid below*. 

*Source: American Heart Association

The average range of heart rate during moderate intensity workouts is 50–70% of the maximum heart rate, while with vigorous intensity workouts it is 70–85% of maximum heart rate.  Remember not to strain yourself by pushing for a very high rate too soon. Slowly build up to see weight loss results. 

2. Do more, adding 1,000 steps every fortnight 

If you are doing 10,000 and are physically fit, you may need to push yourself further to achieve weight loss and increase your step count.  It isn’t just how many steps but how many MORE you do to lose weight.

Doing an additional 10,000 steps can burn as much as an additional 2000-3500 calories a week. The word here we sometimes miss is “additional”. If you are already doing, say, 7000 steps, going to 10,000 won’t burn 2000 more calories. Instead, try and add 1000 more.

After two weeks of this new daily routine, add 1000 more, and so on until you get to the step count you see results from.  

3. Get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every single day

This could be 150 minutes of moderate aerobic or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. For weight loss, you may need to do higher intensity workouts or workout longer.  Eventually work your way up to 300 minutes a week for more results.

Also plan a couple of strength training sessions each week to work various muscle groups.  Change things up and switch to different kinds of exercise too, to keep up weight loss. 

4. Don’t sit around

There’s nothing worse for your health than sitting for long spells. Sitting for too long can raise your risk of metabolic problems.

If you are already walking 10,000 steps a day but still spend long hours sitting, you may not see weight loss. Try and increase your overall activity levels instead. Set timers and walk around for 5 minutes every hour.

Always check with your doctor before starting on any weight loss or exercise regimen to ensure you don’t push your body too hard or too far.