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Why 10,000 Steps a Day?

I thought I would give this ‘10,000’ steps a day myth a deeper dive to look at its origins and to get a clearer understanding of its applicability as part of a daily active routine that elevates health and fitness. Hope you enjoy this review and it gives you some ‘food for thought’ or even ‘walk to exercise’.

The concept of taking 10,000 steps a day as a daily fitness goal can be traced back to Japan in the mid-1960s. The origin of this idea is often attributed to Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, a Japanese researcher and professor at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare. Dr. Hatano was interested in promoting physical activity and wanted to find a simple way for people to measure their daily movement to improve their health.

In his research, Dr. Hatano calculated that if people were to increase their daily physical activity by approximately 3,500 to 4,000 steps, it would burn about 2000 to 3,500 extra calories per week, which was considered a reasonable amount to support weight loss and overall health improvement.

The number 10,000 was chosen as a catchy and easily memorable goal, not based on any specific scientific evidence but as a good target for the average person to strive for. The concept was initially popularised through the marketing of pedometers in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s, which were called "manpo-kei," translating to "10,000 steps meter."

Over time, the 10,000 steps a day goal gained popularity globally as a simple and achievable fitness target. It has been widely promoted by health organisations and fitness enthusiasts as a way to encourage people to lead a more active lifestyle.

It's important to note that while aiming for 10,000 steps a day can be a helpful guideline for increasing physical activity, the actual number of steps needed for health benefits can vary from person to person. Some individuals may benefit from fewer steps, while others might need more, depending on factors such as age, fitness level, and individual health goals.

The key is to find a level of physical activity that works for you and aligns with your overall health and fitness objectives.


10,000 steps is a generalisation and should not be taken literally. It is how you do those steps that counts regarding speed, length, etc. One step is better than none as is 4000 better than 400. It has to, as I briefly discussed earlier in this article, work on an individual basis.

When I coach individuals I do not assess clients via broad generic applications but by looking at the individual as an individual and work through that person’s needs analysis. That is after all, what ‘one to one’ coaching is: tailored coaching for the individual.

Keep moving!

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