These are the Days of 10,000 Maniac’s

No, not Natalie Merchant’s 10,000 Maniacs. We mean the Japanese version. Everywhere you look these days, we are being told to ‘get your steps’ or ‘I need to get my step up’. Now, I’m the first to preach that as a society who is dealing with pain and obesity epidemics, we all need to move more. Simply moving more can alleviate a myriad of physical disorders and complaints that come through our doors. As technology has evolved, we have become a society that is more dependent on communication via text or email, rather than a physical interaction with someone who may be in the next cube or a friend who may live around the corner.

I won’t preach that lack of movement is the only culprit to our decline in overall health that leads to major health issues, but it is indeed a factor, that if addressed realistically, can help many people towards a better health.

Enter the advertising executives who saw an opportunity in a market segment; you. 10,000 steps have become a mantra now and people think that simply receiving a notification on their wrist is an indication that they are being healthy. Wrong! For starters, who determined that 10,000 steps were the magical number of steps we needed to be “well”? The concept originated in the 1960s with a Japanese manufacturer of a pedometer called manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000 steps meter.” It’s thought that the number 10,000 was chosen because of its exalted status in Japanese culture, not necessarily because it’s a golden number for health. This is not exactly a reason for millions of people to be maniacs about their steps.

Research tell us that less than 5000 steps a day is considered sedentary. An additional 3000 steps for a total of 8000 steps, is the true target to be considered ‘somewhat active’. However, the additional 3000 steps should ALSO be done at a pace of 100 steps per minute (fast walk or slow jog) in increments of at least 10 minutes at a time. In other words, achieving your target of 10,000 or even 8,000 steps by walking around your living room as you brush your teeth before bed doesn’t cut the mustard, yet you will see that many 10K maniac step club members do this for the sake of a team goal or even self-gratification. Don’t even get me started on the accuracy of these pedometers. There are numerous studies showing just how unreliable the data can be from these devices.

The gold standard for maintaining good health has not changed in over 30 years. 150 minutes of moderate activity each week (30 minutes a day) coupled with two or more days of muscle-strengthening activity, is what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to recommend. There are plenty of fitness apps at our disposal to monitor and track our success, but I can assure you that if you are following the gold standard, you won’t need a vibrating watch to tell you that you are taking care of yourself.

Bottom line is this, technology can be both good and evil. When it comes to your own health, should you rely on a watch or real science? I’m all for the science. Besides, that watch you’re wearing is so 2016.