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  • Kristin McNealus, DPT, MBA

10,000 Steps Versus Exercise

You may have heard about the studies that show sitting is worse for your health than smoking, and to combat this, getting a certain number of steps in per day is recommended. Our occupations are more sedentary than they used to be, and our pastimes are also getting less active as we sit at our computers and on our devices more often. Before Wall-E becomes our reality, health care providers are encouraging people to get at least 10,000 steps per day.

There are devices and apps that can count your steps, that can alert you when you are on track or need a reminder to get moving. While all of this is a great guideline, do not replace your exercise routine with getting your steps in. Walking is great – it gets you upright, boosts your circulation and loosens up your muscles. However, remember that exercise is defined by intensity.

If you can push your walking to an intensity that constitutes exercise, fantastic! You can do this by walking faster, or by adding small weights to increase the effort. Still thinking about that 1-10 scale with 10/10 being an all-out sprint, push yourself to a 5/10 to get the benefits of exercise. You may feel a little short of breath, and it may be effortful to carry on a conversation – that is good! This is when you are getting the cardiac and neurological benefits.

If you cannot safely increase your walking intensity, then find an exercise that you enjoy and can safely work harder. Maybe that is swimming or riding a stationary bike. I offer an online fitness and strengthening class that has seated aerobic routines.

While I agree with the importance of being upright as much as possible, taking 10,000 steps is not possible for everyone. Getting the steps does not lessen the need to push the intensity! Here is another article to read more about the importance of intensity:

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