10000 steps a day is a meaningless fitness goal, says science

23 February, 2017, 00:56 | Author: Joy Garcia

These days 10,000 steps has become something of a mantra as a route to fitness, or at least the appearance thereof. Without scientific evidence base, how do you know what any of these apps are good for you?

Speaking at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston, Dr Greg Hager revealed where the 10,000-step number actually comes from. What's big about 10,000?' For some of us 10,000 steps represents an attainable target that pushes us just the right amount, for others it could push them past what's healthy.

There are more than 150,000 health care programs that we can install on our smartphone, but none of them are scientifically proved, says Dr. Hager, and now there are a lot of dedicated devices, like the fitness bracelets that don't help us at all. "So they picked 10,000 steps as a number", he said.

Apparently in 1960 Japan, they discovered the average Japanese man walked around 10,000 steps a day, and burned around 3,000 calories - and that my friends is why we are now advised to walk 10,000 steps a day. "They may even be harmful", he said.

The lack of scientific evidence means we have no idea if these numbers are right for us.

"We all know that probably the more you exercise, the better it is for you".

It turns out that the origin of the 10,000 steps a day minimum is not actually based on any hard science.

For some, that standard could do more harm than good.

. "If you are elderly or infirm, then this is not going to be good for you", he said. My health app states that I walk on average 10, 689 steps a day - so if we're going by the advised step average I'm doing good.

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A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400kcal (1673kJ) by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3-5mph).

'It isn't sensible to just jump in to a big number.

"A 'personalised" approach to Fitbits etc. could be accomplished easily enough by modifying the target with reference to either clinical guidance for weight loss and physical activity, or in conjunction with a clinician.

While the step counting apps have taken over the fitness world with over a billion downloads, Dr Greg Hager suggests that out of about 165, 000 healthcare apps, "very few" are based on any scientific evidence.

'From there the devices and apps should be used for monitoring of health-related goals and to help in behavior change.

'So, we need to be careful about relying exclusively on these devices.

Dr Steve Flatt, of the university's psychological therapies unit, said: "This field is in its infancy and can now be likened to the snake oil salesmen of the 1860s".

"However, there is a place for these and so we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater".

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