Wearable devices that monitor physical well-being and fitness are incredibly popular. The number sold is expected to increase from 17.7 million in 2014 to more than 40 million this year.1
Personally, I use the Jawbone UP24 and have found it very useful for keeping track of my daily steps and sleep patterns. Most of these devices come set with a default goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is a number commonly associated with a basic or moderate level of fitness.
For instance, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare recommends walking 8,000 to 10,000 steps daily, while the UK National Obesity Forum recommends 7,000 to 10,000 daily steps to stay moderately active.
Recent research showed that wearing a fitness-tracking wristband (the FitBit One) did help overweight postmenopausal women increase their activity levels by nearly 40 minutes (and 789 steps) a week.2 Wearing a pedometer did not have such an effect.
However, if you’re committed to making your 10,000 steps a day, does that mean you’re on your way to becoming physically fit?
Walking 10,000 Daily Steps Is a Required Movement
Should you strive for 10,000 daily steps? Yes! I view this as a basic requirement for optimal health, like drinking adequate amounts of water each day. Your body is designed for frequent movement and many researchers are now starting to reemphasize the importance of walking.
According to Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book: Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement:3
“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human.”
For example, one study found that walking for two miles a day or more can cut your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about half.4
Another study found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60.5 Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was. Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds.
The elderly and those struggling with chronic disease that prevents them from engaging in more strenuous fitness regimens would also do well to consider moving around more. While walking is often underestimated, studies show you can reap significant health benefits from it.
However, as far as fitness goes, walking will only help you to get physically fit if you’re starting out very out of shape. Even then, as you get fitter, you will need to add exercise to your lifestyle, such as high-intensity interval training and strength training, to actually get fit.