It just ain’t so

On February 2, Jeff’s blog informed his readers that some of the things “everyone” knows are true might not include full disclosure. Jeff’s example was that eating carrots will improve your eyesight, a line of propaganda with a tiny grain of truth, but actually created to encourage the British population to consume more of England’s plentiful carrot crop.

There are countless other unsupported health-related truths that “everyone” knows, including: breakfast is the most important meal of the day; drink eight glasses of water a day; get eight hours of sleep per night; two thousand calories a day is normal; don’t swim for an hour after eating; you’ll lose more weight by exercising in the morning; and (today’s topic) everyone should walk 10,000 steps per day.

The 10,000-step goal is commonly used as the default for fitness trackers and smartphone apps; however, there is no scientific basis for making 10,000 steps a daily fitness goal. A Harvard professor looked into the origins of the 10,000-step standard. In a May 2019 article, she reported that this measure of fitness appears to have started as a marketing strategy for a Japanese pedometer company in the 1960s. She explained that the company’s product was named the “10,000 step meter” because the Japanese character for 10,000 looks like a person walking.

Scientific studies have shown that for sedentary people, even a modest increase in daily activity can bring significant health benefits. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy people get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (five 30-minute sessions) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week (five 15-minute sessions).

The conclusion: as long as we’re active, we can just keep on keepin’ on. No guilt needed for fewer than 10,000 daily steps.