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Getting Started With The 10000 Step Challenge

Updated on April 3, 2016

Many fitness trackers and smart pedometers that you buy today encourage users to walk 10000 steps a day. But is this just a random number that has caught on like a meme goes viral? Is there some scientific reason why walking 10000 steps, not less not more, can make the difference between good health and a body that fails you?

The truth is, as health professionals will tell you that any amount of walking is good for you, as long as it is more than what you are doing now. Walking is excellent exercise, because it is so easy to do. You can walk anywhere, at any time, and in almost any weather. It is considered to be a moderate-intensity exercise, as long as you walk at a brisk pace of around 3 to 5 miles per hour. It can help you build stamina, burn off calories and give you a healthier heart. This form of exercise is often overlooked, but it can be fun and count towards the weekly recommended 150 minutes of exercise.

Why the 10000 step challenge?

The 10000 step challenge is a fun way to set yourself a goal while you walk as a workout. As you try to achieve the target and increase the number of steps you walk each day, you are automatically doing moderate exercise that will be good for your body. When you have a goal, you stay motivated. One of the biggest reasons why people drop out of exercise is because they lack the motivation.

If you manage to walk 10000 a day, you will automatically be involved in physical exercise for over 150 minutes. 10000 steps are approximately five miles. You can burn quite a lot of calories walking 5 miles a day - a 45-year-old weight 11 stone (or 70 kg) can burn about 400 calories a day with a brisk walk of around 3 to 5 mph for 10000 steps. For people trying to lose weight, a combination of walking and diet should be used to lose 600 calories more than you eat daily.

If you decide to take the challenge, you can measure how many steps you walk with the help of a pedometer. Choose a pedometer that counts walking steps. It is best that you don't just keep it in your pocket but clip it firmly to your belt for accurate readings. You can try out your pedometer in the beginning to see how many steps you take on a normal day. Wear it all day every day for about two weeks and carry out your normal activities. Log the number of steps taken at the end of each day before you go to bed. Don't do anything to change your routine. Look at the log at the end of the two weeks and see how much you have walked daily.

Most people walk anywhere between 900 and 4000 steps in a day. In contrast, 10000 steps can seem like a near-impossible task without getting on the treadmill or intentionally going out for a walk. But it is very much achievable, with a little work and perhaps some small changes in your normal daily routine. Even if you don't have the time to take long walks on normal working days, it is quite possible to achieve a total of 10000 steps a day.

Getting started with your starting point physically

If you don't get much physical exercise at the moment, you don't have to worry if you can't walk 10000 steps right from the start. In fact, it is recommended that you try to achieve your target gradually to avoid injuries. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you use your pedometer to set short term goals first, and then build up to long-term goals of 10000 steps. If you are worried about whether your ankles, hips, knees or other joints won't be able to meet up to the challenge, consult a physician before you begin.

The first thing you should do to take the challenge is make sure that you have a pair of good quality sneakers or running shoes with cushioning. The next thing you can do is to take the highest number of steps that you have walked on any given day (according to your log) and make that your daily target. This is not a hard and fast rule - feel free to select a lower number if you feel more comfortable with it. Try to stick to your goal for two weeks. Again, be sure to log the steps you take each day.

At the end of two weeks, see if you've been able to meet your goals each day. Consider if you're willing to add five hundred more steps to your daily routine each day. Make changes to your day as required - perhaps you could take a longer route to a cafe from work, or walk a dog a little longer. Continue in this way and slowly work up your way to 10000 steps, no matter how long it takes. If you experience any discomfort, consult a physician. Take pain as a warning, and remember that your goal should be to sustain your exercise for all your life so there is no need to go overboard from the beginning. You will get there, slowly and eventually.

Even if you don't reach ten thousand, as long as you are walking more than you used to, you'll be reaping the benefits of physical activity. The goal is to get started, and the challenge is a good way to do so.

How do you sustain the results?

If and when you've managed to achieve your goal or 10000 steps (or a lower, comfortable level) pretty regularly, sustaining it can take some time. It can take six months to set a new behavior. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that you can permanently change your exercise behavior. If you are unable to meet your goals for a few days, try to get back to your routine as soon as possible. The more frequently you keep to your daily goals, the more likely to you will be to continue for the rest of your life.

To avoid slipping into boredom, try and find a partner or a group to go along with you. Maintaining daily logs can also help battle boredom and stay motivated. Get started with your challenge of walking 10000 steps today and you will soon begin to feel a great difference in the quality of life that you live!


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