At a time when many Americans spend their days exercising nothing but their thumbs to exhaustion, others have grown obsessed with steps.
Each footfall, from getting the mail to getting in a run, is tracked on the way to 10,000 — a not-so-magic number that's been turned into a fitness grail. Ten thousand steps is about five miles, depending on the stride, a distance that seems shorter when you start adding in every step from waking to sleeping. Still, many people barely log 3,000 steps per day.
You'd have to live in another galaxy to have missed the admonition to walk for health, to counter our sedentary jobs and hobbies: Walk the dog, park far from the store, take the stairs, schedule a walking meeting. It's exercise that's accessible to most people in most places. It improves cardiovascular health, strengthens bones and boosts mood. It uses calories. And it's simple.
The 10,000-step daily goal originated decades ago in Japan and has gained momentum in recent years in the United States, in part thanks to all the cool little tracking devices on the market. But many experts are looking at our walks in another way that could be easier to track and less intimidating: Walk for 30 minutes, five days a week. (One half-hour walk on its own is significantly less than 10,000 steps.)
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