Why The Popular 10,000 Steps Goal Can Be Misleading

Fitness trackers, fitness gurus, and even physicians, tout the 10K step goal as a benchmark in physical fitness. But there's a few problems with that theory, three in fact. 

Spoiler: Fitness tracker lovers, you're in for a big surprise.

3 Reasons Why The Popular 10,000 Steps a Day Goal Is Misleading

First things first, anything that gets people moving is a good thing. I'm definitely not a 10,000 steps a day protestor. But if you're to achieve the fitness goals you're so desperately working for, it's important to consider the following three facts:

  1. Steps are not always an indicator of effort. Not all steps are created equal. 10,000 steps spent shuffling around the house, running errands, and yes, even walking, are not equivalent to 10,000 steps that get your heart up to an anaerobic level.

    For example: if you're comparing numbers alone, a 3 mile walk offers more steps than a classic CrossFit Wod, a HIIT fitness class, or weight training. When I sweat it out for an hour or more doing any of the aforementioned exercises, my steps are always lower than days spent doing boring ol' tasks such as mowing the lawn or running errands. Clearly numbers are misleading.

    The lesson? You can fall short of 10,000 steps and still get a healthy dose of exercise, even weight loss!

  2. Fitness journeys differ. Fitness is defined and interpreted by the individual, and that's OK. We're all in different places on our fitness journeys. If you're just starting out, older in years, or have a sedentary lifestyle, a 10K step goal might be perfect for you. Goals can even vary on a daily basis.

    Take me for example, on days I have a serious, hour long sweat fest, I'm not concerned with low step counts. Burpees, pull-ups, wall balls, and flipping tires don't translate accurately in steps. But on days that I'm stuck at a desk all day, you better believe I'm motivated by a daily step goal.

  3. 15,000 is the new 10,000. According to a recent study published by the New York Times, researchers found that 15,000 steps a day, not 10,000, is the goal we should all be shooting for. 15,000 daily steps delivered metabolism balance and fended off long-term health problems where 10,000 steps couldn't deliver.

The Bottom Line

The 10,000 steps a day is a general guideline for healthy individuals. But if your goal is to lose weight, increase endurance and performance, or challenge your cardiovascular system, you may find that 10K step goal just doesn't deliver. Consider where you are on your fitness journey, pay more attention to the effort expended in your daily steps, and adjust accordingly. Remember, your health is more than a number.

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