Quantity or quality? The 10,000 step debate

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS –When it comes to health and fitness, 10,000 steps a day has long been seen as a daily benchmark. 

The introduction of fitness trackers and smart watches that count your steps has turned the phrase “have to get my steps in” to regular utterance. But is 10,000 steps that much of an important target?

Turns out, maybe not.

A debate has been brewing among fitness experts, with some saying the more important metric is the number of minutes you move, rather than the distance you move. 

Recent research has even pointed to 7-8,000 steps a day as being a sufficient enough distance to reap health benefits.

So, which approach is best?

We reached out to Kelsi Martens, a personal trainer with Lifetime Fitness Castle Creek on her thoughts.

“There’s no movement that is bad movement. I think it’s great to kind of have 10,000 in mind just so you have the idea behind it. But, I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary to hit 10,000 steps every single day,” Martens said.

According to Martens, keeping your body “in motion” is a more important approach.  But when it comes to fitness benchmarks like the 10,000-step milestone, Martens says the value really depends on the person. Specific goals or targets based benchmarks like 10,000 steps a day can be motivating for some but defeating for others.

“There’s no wrong way to be active. Fitness is not just coming in here and lifting weights. It’s a lifestyle, right? The whole goal is just to move more, and how do we do that well: we sit less, we walk more, maybe that walk eventually turns into a speed walk,” Martens said. “If you know that you’re not a numbers person, you don’t need to see the amount of steps you hit, you just want to feel better throughout the day, then go for the fact that you did it rather than how many actual physical steps you got.”

Bottom line: Martens says goals are important but should always be motivating, not discouraging. 

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