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  • Writer's pictureJim Parks, CFP, AIF

The 10,000 steps per day myth...

And just when we patted ourselves on the back for reaching our smart watch step goal it turns out that the origin of this guide is, you guessed it, rooted in a marketing scheme. 

I-Min Lee, a Harvard professor, became curious about where the 10,000 steps/per day recommendation came from. She found that back in 1965 a Japanese company was selling pedometers and gave it a name that in Japanese means "the 10,000 step meter." 

The Japanese symbol for 10,000 () looked a bit like a walking man to marketers of the pedometer and a name was born.

From there the bar was set for our physical activity, even decades later. As far as Lee knows, this number has never been validated by research and there are some medical professionals who caution against using it as a metric.

Lindsay Wilson, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine says "I don't think setting the bar at 10,000 steps is a very successful way to approach exercise," she says. "Some people are not walkers. They don't have safe neighborhoods, or they feel unsteady on sidewalks. You need to be more creative. Is this a person who needs to go to a gym class or the pool, or sit on a stationary bike?"

What all medical professionals can agree upon is that moderate physical exercise promotes and supports an overall healthy lifestyle. However you choose to exercise, and whatever your own personal goals...enjoy what you do! And don't beat yourself up if you don't take those 10,000 steps each day-celebrate the ones that you do take and build on from there!

Wishing you health and happiness in 2020!


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