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The Importance of 10,000 Steps

The number 10,000 is not an insignificant number. For example, I'm sure that if I offered any of you a check for $10,000, you'd cash it before the ink dried. Conversely, if you ate 10,000 hot dogs, you'd probably never even look at a hot dog again.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell proposed that 10,000 hours of practicing your craft will lead to mastery. Although Gladwell's theory has sparked some controversy (there is some lack of clarity around how we should define the terms "practice" and "mastery"), I think it's safe to say that if we practice something—anything—for 10,000 hours we are going to be better at it than when we started.

Consider the impact of walking 10,000 steps every day. It is widely known that 10,000 is sort of the "industry standard" for the daily recommended number of steps we need. What you may not know is that we get that number from the 1960s when early Japanese walking groups created the terms "manpo-kei," which means "10,000-step meter”.

Have you ever thought about what walking 10,000 steps every day can actually do for you? Once the benchmark of 10,000 steps was established in the 60s, various groups began to study the physical effects of that number. Check out what walking 10,000 steps can do for you physically:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve mood
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improve glucose tolerance in overweight adults

While it's safe to say we can all agree that exercise is good for you and will improve your health, not exercising can have just as big of a negative impact on your body. Sitting has been deemed the "new smoking", and conditions that were once attributed to lifelong smokers are now being linked to sitting. For example, if you sit for just a few hours per day, you have:

  • 50 percent higher risk for heart disease
  • 37 percent higher risk for obesity
  • 18 percent increase in diabetes
  • 24 percent higher risk for colon cancer
  • 20 to 40 percent higher morbidity rate

Those are some serious issues. But the good news is that they are changeable. Increase your activity level, and you'll improve your health. Pretty simple, really. I'm not saying walking 10,000 steps is some sort of panacea, but getting 10,000 steps in every day will go a long way toward improving your health and extending your life.

If walking hurts, that's your body's way of letting you know that you're out of balance andt something isn't quite right. That's when you know it's time to get into an Egoscue clinic.

At the very least, now that you're finished reading this, stand up and walk around. Whether you walk down the hall, around your office building, or around the block, the key to improving your health is to get moving. If you haven't been walking much throughout your days, don't let the "10,000 steps" number scare you off. Start where you are. Start small, but just start.