- exercises intended to boost muscle mass,
- or those that raise your heart rate for 20 minutes or more at a time.
What, however, if you want to start exercising but you’re an older person, on the larger side or have a medical condition that prohibits intensive training?
Perhaps you’d like to change your routine to something a little healthier, but don’t yet feel like committing to a gym?
In this case, starting to walk more is most probably your best bet. This helps to get your blood pumping and burns calories while placing hardly any strain on your heart or joints. It can be incorporated into your everyday lifestyle easily, and best of all, needn’t cost you a cent to start with.
Still, if you plan to walk for exercise, you might want to invest in a pair of comfy sneakers and a fitness tracker sooner rather than later.
One Step at a Time
The pedometer (i.e. “step counter”) most fitness trackers contain will probably be the single most useful accessory for both dedicated and casual walkers. Others offer more advanced functionality, like the ability to challenge your friends to walk at least as many steps as you do every day – 10,000 is often recommended.
What, however, is the story behind this supposedly magical figure of 10,000 steps?
Why not call it 5 miles or one and a half hours, both of which amounts to more or less the same thing?
The truth here is that ten thousand steps per day are probably perfect for some people, but others can easily rack up more (and reap the benefits), while people starting from a place of limited fitness are better off taking it slow at first. If your ankles and feet are killing you, or you can barely keep your eyes open by the end of the day, there’s no good reason to strive for a goal that’s not yet for you.
10,000 is a nice, round number – which is great for marketing. As the “optimum” number of steps per day, it first made its appearance in the ’60s in the form of the manpo-kei device, which literally means “ten thousand step meter” in Japanese.
The manufacturer used this number extensively in its advertisements, and somehow 10,000 steps a day became the norm. This happened without any real scientific backing whatsoever – ten thousand is reasonable, though rough, the figure for average, healthy adults who do a limited amount of other exercises, but a very different number may be appropriate depending on somebody’s age and general health.
It’s easy to see why this sounds better in ads: 10,000 steps spread throughout the day however you like sounds quite achievable, at least with some practice. If you think of “5 miles” either as something you need to complete in one go or as 400 round trips to the office water cooler, it sounds impractical, while calling it “one to two hours of exercise every day” seems daunting.