Keep Moving to Stay Fit
by Kathleen Barnes
We have become a nation of couch potatoes. The average American takes only 5,900 steps a day, somewhat better than the sedentary Brits that average less than 4,000. The notion that overall we need to take 10,000 steps a day to be physically fit started with manpo-kei, a 1960s Japanese marketing tool to sell pedometers.
While the 10,000 steps concept lacks specific supporting science, it’s widely acknowledged that we are healthier the more that we move. Affixing a target number to it helped spread the notion of the benefits of walking, says Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D., a walking behavior researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Tudor-Locke is a proponent of the walking goal, although she readily admits the real objective is to get people moving more. “Any opportunity to walk more, more frequently and farther, wherever that is—it all adds up,” she says.