23:19 GMT01 March 2021
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    The Proclaimers recommend walking 500 miles, whilst the experts suggest walking 10,000 steps a day. Or do they? In the lead up to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo a Japanese company, Yamasa Clock began selling a pedometer called the “Manpo-Kei” which translates to ‘10,000 steps’. Ever since then the old adage of walking 10,000 steps a day has stuck!

    Lindsay Bottoms, Reader in Exercise and Health Physiology at the University of Hertfordshire, explains if we should actually be walking 10,000 steps a day? 

    Sputnik: Just how important is walking as part of a daily health and fitness routine? And what benefits can this have?

    Lindsay Bottoms: Our recommended guidelines actually advise that you should do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or up to 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. And actually, if you do brisk walking, that's classed as moderate activity. So it really is beneficial to do as much walking as possible to help with your health. Because if you do this moderate physical activity, the thing is, that you're less likely to develop certain conditions like cardiovascular disease, even things like dementia and can prevent some sort of cancers and prevent diabetes.

    Sputnik: So is it still recommended that we should do 10,000 steps a day? And where did this figure come from?

    Lindsay Bottoms: When you do your homework on it, you realise that it originated from Japan. And so there was a company out there that created the first pedometer, and the name of the pedometer in Japanese was 10,000 steps, and they used that as their marketing tool. So that seems to be where it originated from. If you were to do a study to look at whether 10,000 steps improved health, people have found that it does improve health. But obviously, if you start looking at reducing that 10,000 steps, you still get benefit from less than that. And it seems to be from about 4500 to 5000 steps, but you're starting to get an improvement in health. But it seems to plateau off around seven and a half thousand.

    Sputnik: Just how achievable is it to do between four and 5000 steps a day, or the recommended allowance that guidelines suggest?

    Lindsay Bottoms: In terms of four to 5000 steps, it should be easy to do. So if I go up what I did this morning, I just walked around the block for about ten minutes with my little sausage dog. And I did about 3000 steps. So it shouldn't take too much time in your day to accumulate sort of 4000 steps and even just accounting for you know, going to the kitchen to make your tea and just walking around like me working from home, you know you are limited as to how many steps you can do in the house. But yeah, if you just went for a 20-minute walk, you're going to accumulate a fair chunk of that 4000 steps. These days, what they're realising is sitting is more detrimental for you. So you just really need to break up that sitting and if you can just go out for a ten-minute walk, it starts breaking up and then you start accumulating 4000 5000 steps that year to help improve health.

    Sputnik: How can we increase the number of steps we are doing in a day, especially if we have a busy working life and routine?

    Lindsay Bottoms: I think it's forcing yourself to take little breaks, it doesn't need to be long. It used to be thought that with 150 minutes’ a week, the chief medical officer recommends, they used to say you have to have at least a ten-minute bounce. But it could be that you just give yourself a couple of minutes and go and walk up and down the stairs several times and then come back to your office chair or go walk for five or ten minutes around the block and come back. Just breaking it up. It's forcing yourself in between meetings in between whatever you're doing to just control and get those steps in.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    health, physical activity
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