fitness

According to experts, the '10,000 steps a day' rule is a myth.

Are 10,000 steps good for your health?

If your exercise routine consists of clocking 10,000 steps a day on your Fitbit, this news might be a little difficult to digest.

According to Public Health England, the Royal College of GPs have announced that three brisk 10-minute walks a day is more effective than doing 10,000 steps a day.

The announcement comes in an effort to encourage adults to increase the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do daily, emphasising that the intensity of exercise is more important than the distance, or the number of steps.

“Managing all the pressures of everyday life can mean that exercise takes a back seat, but building a brisk walk into your daily routine is a simple way to get more active,” says Medical Director at Public Health England, Professor Paul Cosford.

“Taking a brisk 10-minute walk each day will get your heart pumping.”

While a moderate intensity 10-minute walk, which is also referred to as the ‘Active 10’, may seem like a small investment for your health, it’s because you’re meant to do not one, but three daily.

According to Public Health England, these short walks could reduce the risk of early death by up to 15%.

The new guidelines recommend three brisk walks a day. Image: Getty.
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In a study by Professor Rob Copeland from Sheffield Hallam University,  the benefits of 10,000 steps was compared with those doing the "Active 10."

When comparing the two groups, Professor Copeland said those aiming for 10,000 steps struggled to achieve their goal and got fewer health benefits than those doing brisk walks, he told the BBC. 

"The Active 10 group actually did 30% more 'moderate to vigorous physical activity' than the 10,000-step group, even though they moved for less time," said Professor Copeland.

"And it's when you are doing moderate-intensity activity that you are starting to get the greatest health benefits."

The professor said that to judge how "brisk" your walk is, you should be walking fast enough that you can talk, but not sing.

The 10,000 step rule has been ingrained in public consciousness since the 1960's, and originated in Japan when a young academic panicked that the Japanese were becoming lazy.

He subsequently developed the original pedometer on the back of the claim that increasing the population's steps from 4000 to 10,000 daily would prevent obesity.

The 10,000 step rule has since been applauded by fitness gurus and celebrities alike.

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