So 10,000 steps a day might not be what it was cracked up to be. Truth be told I never thought it was!
I know that I’ll be forever associated with the dynamic rough and tumble of Gladiators on TV, however the fact is, my single favourite physical activity is probably walking (although it’s a close-run thing with dance). And by walking I mean rambling, hiking, trekking.
I say this because there is walking and then there’s walking!
The long-held 10,000 steps target has always been a bit shaky for me as a guide. For example there are 10,000 steps over the Brecon Beacons into the teeth of a gale, then there are 10,000 ambling shuffles over a long day of shopping in the Westfield Centre, intermittently punctuated by a sit down for a coffee or ice cream. There are absolutely no prizes for identifying the most meaningful activity when it comes to your health!
Good pace with a good arm swing for shorter sustained periods will always be better for you than just ambling around and clocking up the numbers on your pedometer. Don’t get me wrong, moving beats sitting on the sofa in front of the TV or X-Box all day, but simple step counts don’t tell the full story.
I’m delighted to see that Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are combining their considerable expertise and influence to advocate 10 minutes brisk walking on a daily basis. This initiative is called Active 10 and its aim is to get people upping their levels of moderate intensity activity levels.
It’s About Heart Rate
The reason for this is simple; to start to get any real benefit from physical movement it must at least raise your heart rate. This is why mooching around in between and inside shops doesn’t cut it. Apart from your heart momentarily leaping when you see something you love at a really good price, it will barely be exercised at all.
Here in the UK the Chief Medical Offer advises that we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. 10 minutes meaningful walking each day covers more or less half that requirement straight away.
The primary reason (or excuse) given for not exercising enough is lack of time, with 31% of adults citing this. Active 10 is pointing out that a genuine difference to your fitness and health can be made by just walking 10 minutes a day at a decent pace.
And this doesn’t have to be an obstruction to anyone’s daily routine. Walk to where you need to be anyway. The average walking pace is 3mph which means in 10 minutes you will cover half a mile. Let’s up this tempo to 4mph to ensure you get that all-important heart rate up a little, and now you are at two-thirds of a mile. So don’t always take the car, the bus, the tube/metro to cover this distance – knock it off in just 10 minutes!
The Cost of Inactivity
Despite so much scientific evidence, so much free to access material, so many platforms talking about this situation and so many experts issuing warnings and advice, we’re still seeing obesity and type 2 diabetes at record levels. The lack of physical activity in society today causes 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and the annual cost to our extraordinary National Health Service is half a billion pounds.
Just 10 daily minutes of purposefully striding can change things for you and, over time, change things for society.
And if you ever happen to come across me on a hill, mountain, moor, valley, field or fen – don’t hesitate to say hello and we’ll walk together for a while!
I don’t expect you to do this, but come rain or shine I like to do a bit of walking on my hands too!
Do check out Active 10 here – www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Diane Youdale