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What I Learned from Walking 15,000 Steps Per Day

Discover what the Get-Fit Guy learned from quantifying his steps by walking 15,000 steps per day.

By
Ben Greenfield,
May 23, 2016
Episode #287

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Yes, yes, I know. It was just a few weeks ago, in the episode on whether you really should self quantify, that I mentioned the value of sometimes simply unplugging and ignoring the dizzying and often enjoyment-minimizing host of self-quantification, calorie counting and step counting wristbands, wearables, technology and other such devices out there.

At the same time, I have, as I also mentioned in that episode, lately been using a ring to track a fair share of self-quantification variables, including sleep, heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, respiration rate, and more. One of the easiest numbers I’ve been tracking is (as boring as it may first sound) the number of steps I take each day.

So, what have I learned by counting steps, and how many steps have I been attempting to take each day? You’re about to find out.

Research on 10,000 Steps Per Day

Let’s start with a quick history lesson. While manufacturers of fitness trackers such as FitBit and Garmin might very well be responsible for the current 10,000-step fixation, the hype actually started in Japan back in the 1960’s, while the Tokyo Olympics were happening and fitness was on everyone’s mind in that particular region. At this time, the Japanese developed the first commercial pedometer, which was called the “manpo-meter.”

Manpo means 10,000 steps in Japanese, and this “magic” number was specifically selected after research revealed that men who burn at least 2,000 calories per week by exercising have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 2,000 calories per week breaks down to approximately 300 calories per day, which most people can achieve by taking—you guessed it—10,000 steps per day (that’s about five miles).

Since that initial research, there's been plenty of other studies showing that 10,000 steps a day can help your health. There are actually over 300 peer-reviewed articles with a focus on the 10,000 steps per day protocol. One study, for example, found that people who take more than 10,000 steps a day have lower blood pressure levels and better cardiovascular health. Another study determined that getting close to 10,000 steps helps lower blood glucose levels and lowers the risk of developing diabetes. Other studies show that this value of 10,000 steps per day help you more easily maintain your weight.

How Many Steps Per Day I Take

But because I use a standing workstation, I constantly take movement breaks, and I exercise for at least sixty minutes per day, I’ve personally found that 10,000 steps per day is almost “too easy” for me.

At the same time, I really have to work quite hard and be moving nearly the entire day at a relatively rapid, hectic pace to achieve 20,000 steps per day (that’s over 10 miles!).

So, through a combination of pure self-experimentation and natural daily movement patterns, I’ve discovered that about 15,000 steps per day seems to be a sweet spot for me. Along the way, I’ve learned four valuable lessons

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