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Do I Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day?


Is it just us or did counting steps even exist pre-covid? It seems that lockdown has us all doing 3 things; eating, sleeping and a whole lotta stepping. Not only did we start thinking about moving more, but more specifically, moving 10,000 steps more.  

For some, 10,000 is totally doable but for others (us included) 10,000 is a LOT. Realistically with a desk job, and other commitments, it’s hard to fit it all in. So, do we really need to be hitting this figure every single day? Here’s the low-down. 

Firstly, where did 10,000 actually come from? It turns out that a Japanese company called Yamasa Clock actually invented a device in the 1960s called the Manpo-kei, which literally means ’10,000 step meter’. An easy number to remember, a catchy marketing campaign and guess what, it stuck.  

There’s no denying that walking more, and getting your steps in is hugely beneficial to your health; in fact any sort of extra movement is important! In essence, it’s just about getting up and being active. Whether that be going on a walk, dancing around your kitchen, cleaning the house from top to bottom, taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking further away and walking more. Literally anything. It all contributes to your NEAT.  

What on earth is NEAT you might ask? Well, here’s a step-by-step guide (like what we did there 😉)  

NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis 

a.k.a all of the things listed above! Basically anything you’re doing that’s not planned exercise (or sleeping, eating, breathing).  

Components of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). BMR = basal... |  Download Scientific Diagram

As you can see above, NEAT accounts for 15% of your daily total energy expenditure, whereas exercise is only 5%. What does that tell you? In short, the more you move, the better. So, when it comes to hours and hours of endless cardio, think to yourself, is this necessary? Could I go for a nice long walk instead? It’s all about doing what you enjoy.  

If you’re still feeling a little lost, here’s our 5 top tips on increasing your NEAT: 

1) Parking further away at the supermarket and walking a little more, we know those spaces at the front are appealing but every little helps.  

2) Taking the stairs instead of the lift, a great burst of cardio plus no awkward silence with strangers, bonus! 

3) Break up your day with a 30 min power walk, also brilliant to get yourself mentally focused for the afternoon! 

4) Stand up at work, even if it’s to go and make the team a coffee, it still counts! Plus your colleagues will love you.  

5) When it doubt, just move. Be mindful of too much sitting around, even if it’s to jump up and answer the door, or pick up the phone, or even grabbing something from upstairs. It will all contribute to NEAT.  

So, to summarise. Do what works for you. If 10,000 is easily achievable then great, if it’s not, then don’t stress. The best advice we can give is just to make a conscious effort to move more, and don’t forget that some days will be more active than others, so don’t beat yourself up.