10,000 steps, you’ve heard it a lot! Ask anyone how many steps a day should you be ideally taking, the default answer is always is 10k. No surprise there! While that works well for getting you out of your sedentary lifestyle, it might not be enough. 10,000 steps throughout the day roughly translate to 60 active minutes.
Taking 10,000 steps daily also comes with a number of other advantages:
With 10,000 steps daily, what you are ensuring is that you have improved stroke volume and aerobic capacity. In turn, this significantly lowers your risk of heart disease.
If you are a regular exerciser, food is used to fuel key body systems as opposed to someone who is physically inactive and tends to accumulate body fat.
An active person is at a much lower risk of type 2 diabetes. With the activity that you undertake, you have far less glucose in your blood after a meal, a reliable predictor of diabetes.
Moderate exercise also goes a long way in stemming cognitive decline. In fact, aerobic exercise is known to aid new cell growth in the hippocampus in the brain, which in turn positively affects memory and other cognitive functions.
While the benefits of taking 10,000 steps are many, the fact remains that how much physical activity you should undertake depends upon your specific fitness goals. Here are some plausible fitness-goal scenarios including, of course, the one that allows you to shed that extra weight.
If you are new to fitness you certainly do not want to burn yourself out. You are probably someone who is not looking at walking on Day 1, and carry on with your day as usual. If you are at a desk job, chances are that you reached only about 5k (or under steps) throughout the day. Don’t be discouraged, you just set your baseline. Your task from thereon will be to try and add 1000 steps every week until you hit your 10k mark. Let’s face it, it’s a sweet spot!
A good way to push the step counter is to find incremental measures such as taking a longer route home when you are out on foot, parking your car a little further up in the parking bay, taking the stairs ever so often, and the most effective one being, walking while you are on the phone.
If what you are looking for is to maintain your current fitness levels, 10,000 steps are ideal. We’re not talking about low-energy steps that get you from the couch to the TV. Try getting at least 30% of your steps from workouts, like brisk walking, running, cardio and floor exercises, aerobics, etc. You will benefit on many counts with this active daily regime - keeping your blood pressure in check, improving sleep or even keeping yourself mentally agile.
In fact, studies have also indicated the probability of stroke risk declining with this level of activity.
You have been wanting to lose weight, but do not fancy intense workouts. For starters, a “walking for weight loss” routine might be just the way to get started. Just how much walking would this translate to, you ask? Now this involves doing some quick math. Before that though, let’s just take a minute to digress. For successful weight loss, what you need to aim for is a slow and steady weight loss regime. That would ideally mean losing between 0.2-0.5 Kg per week.
The math broadly works like so:
A 10,000 steps a day weight loss regime, typically burns around 2000-3500 extra calories each week. 3500 calories, in turn, would mean a little less than half a kg of body fat. So with this, you could aim at losing close to half a kg per week. The exact calories that you burn, of course, depend upon a number of factors such as your pace, your current weight, age, body fat percentage and more.
Roughtly, steps in 1 km = 1,500 to 1,800 (walking). Meaning there are about 6-7 kms in 10,000 steps.
Tracking your progress on the PLAYFIT App
The one thing you need to keep in mind is that speeding up your steps increases your heart rate and that is when you begin to burn calories. For instance, increasing your pace from 4km/hr to 8km/hr could bring in the results. Not to worry, your fitness tracker not only count steps but can also give you the break down of your pace, calories burnt and heart rate maintained during your walking session. The buzzword, therefore, is brisk walking for weight loss, to get you into the fat-burning zone and to say goodbye to those extra love bags!
For losing weight with walking, steps don’t matter, but intensity matters. Adding inclines to your walking regimen helps. For example, you could also turn your walk into a work out by adding phases of speed intervals alternating with periods of recovery. Of course, do not do too much too fast, as there is always the scope for injury.
If you are walking specifically for weight loss, the one other aspect that needs to be kept in mind is creating a calorie deficit. Simply put, the thumb rule is if you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, if you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight and if you take in as much as you burn out, you will maintain your current weight. While walking will add to the loss of calories, what you need to keep a track of is also your calorie intake. The key, therefore, is to eat mindfully along with your walking regimen, to promote weight loss. Exercising portion control as also cutting out things like trans fat, refined sugar, refined oil, soda etc. can go a long way in keeping your calories under check. The thumb rule is also to stick to the food itself, instead of its processed variant.
Pro tip: While you need to create a calorie deficit, do not overly obsess about what you are eating, as that is likely to take all the fun out of food. Also, remember that your stress levels, hormones, sleep schedule, all play a part in weight gain and loss, hence a holistic overview is essential.
Now that you have determined your health goals and you know the number of steps you need to take, it is time to get going. Here are some handy tips to ensure you get the required number of steps daily:
It’s time to strap on your shoes, wear your fitness tracker, and max up the sound on your headphone. You are all set for your mission of walking for weight loss. Happy Stepping!