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Fitness for All: 10,000 Steps a Day: Where did it come from?

Whether you are an avid fitness guru or just your “Average Joe” you have no doubt at some point in your life heard that the key to being healthy is getting in your “10,000 steps” daily.

But have you ever wondered why 10,000 steps? And is it working? Or is it just causing us unnecessary stress?

Here is what the experts say…

Back in 1965, when the Summer Olympics was held in Tokyo, Japan, a local professor was working on coming up with the best way to fight obesity and heart disease. He calculated that walking 10,000 steps a day – or the equivalent of 5 miles – would translate into a 20% increase in calories burned for the average person.

The professor, Yoshiro Hatano, then came up with a pedometer-like device called the Manpo-kei, to encourage people to get up and moving during the Olympics when fitness was on everyone’s mind.

The popularity of the pedometer and taking 10,000 steps continued in Japan and has since spread to the U.S. and other countries, becoming the standard that World Health Organization (WHO), the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still follow today.

While 10,000 steps a day might be an achievable goal for some, experts note that everyone’s fitness ability is different and their steps per day should be adjusted accordingly.

One way to figure out the number of steps that would work for you is to track how many steps you normally take in any given day, then set an achievable goal based on your baseline steps. If you are a person who typically gets in 5,000 steps a day, then shoot for 7,500. Already reaching 10,000 a day? Why not try for 12,500? Even though this theory has been around for decades, there is no need to stress yourself out about reaching this daily goal. Just take it one step at a time.