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Is 10,000 steps a day the magic number to stay healthy or is it a myth?

| Becca Clayton

Why do you really need to hit 10,000 steps a day?

You might be surprised to hear that the magic ‘10,000 steps’ dates back to a marketing campaign before the last Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and the number has just stuck! Its doable and easy to remember.

But is it do-able? Especially if your work is desk-bound?

And do we all need to count our steps, really?

Multiple studies have shown that the more steps you do, the better your mental and physical health. Taking 8,000 steps was associated with a 51% decreased mortality risk over the study period, according to the National Cancer Institute, and taking 12,000 steps a day was associated with a 65% reduction in risk! So in essence, if this daily target gets us all moving more and it helps build muscle, strengthens bones, improves concentration, relieves stress, boosts energy, improves your mood, then there’s your answer!

But how do you walk 10,000 steps when you work at a desk?

If you have a job where you are on your feet all day you will find reaching the 10,000 step goal easy. However, one survey showed that 81% of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours a day just sitting at their desks, with another survey stating up to 15 hours a day! The NHS quote an average of nine hours a day.

So it seems that the 10,000 steps goal is here to stay. And as Becca, Founder of Tonic Wellbeing and Fitness Trainer says;

“We just cannot emphasise enough how important regular physical activity is for our mental and physical health. This is where the goal (10,000 steps) is so vital if it encourages us all to move more and break periods of prolonged sitting! Bit how we hear you ask…. the good news is that achieving your 10,000 steps every day really is achievable, even if you are working at a desk all day. What’s more, you could burn an extra 3,500 calories each week!”

Here’s how we suggest you can build activity and more steps into you daily work schedule:

Record Your Steps

Recording your steps is a great way to motivate yourself. You can even compare your progress with your colleagues. There are great tools to record and measure your steps,  from the Apple watch to the Fitbit or any sort of pedometer. Just search in your app store for a wealth of similar tools you can download onto your phone too.

Get Up and Walk about Frequently

Taking frequent breaks is good for your concentration and and is a great way to way to keep up those steps. Plus as we said earlier breaking up prolonged periods of sitting is vital to our health.

Here’s a handy tip: Fill a glass (or bottle) of water and take drink throughout the day. Once the glass is empty, use it as a reminder to pop to the kitchen for a refill. If you also have a water goal, get a bottle ready each day with the amount you want and leave it in the fridge and the glass on your desk. Once the bottle is empty, you’ve made your goal for water and helped your step count! Might also mean to need to pop to the loo more too 🙂 – so more steps again! These ‘lifetysle’ steps all count!

Start Your Day with a “Fake Commute” and always take a Lunch Break

If you are working from home right now then have you thought about starting your day a “fake commute”? Again growing in popularity, simply taking some time in the morning to create a fresh headspace & getting outside, before the day of work starts. Then in the evening too – use it to de-stress and get closure from a busy day and make more time for living.

Do you ever feel low energy just after lunch so rather than sit unproductively, get out for a post-lunch walk. Walking at lunchtime daily can soon become a habit, so work it into your schedule, even just 15 minutes!

Invest in a Standing Desk

If you’ve not seen one before, a standing desk is exactly what it sounds like; a tall table for your computer that you need to stand up to work at. They are claimed to help manage your weight and lower risks of heart disease, but as you are already standing it’s easier to move around and add to your step count. There are plenty of options and price points, with some starting at around £100. If you need some guidance here please just ask us.

Set Sensible Targets

If you are not used to walking set yourself a reasonable goal and gradually increase your target. Think about whether you really need the car and walk instead! You’ll save money on petrol too. Why  not add 2000 steps per week to your target?

Stand and/or Walk While Talking

If you find yourself on the phone a lot, use this time as a chance to stretch your legs. You can keep a notepad or laptop nearby ready to take notes if you need to, but walking around can also make you sound more energetic and engaging. Walking meetings are popular here at Tonic and increasingly amongst our clients. Why not try it n your workplace?

Take the Stairs

A very simple piece of advice. Avoid the elevator and take the stairs instead.

Do you Need to use the Phone?

During lockdown we have become used to talking over the phone or Zoom. However, when restrictions are relaxed if the person you need to talk to is nearby, think about walking to a meeting rather than picking up the phone or sending an email.

If you still need some help try: Ways to reach your 10000 steps this is a good article with more tips. It also shows ways to achieve your target that don’t feel overwhelming, especially if you are sat down a lot of  your day.

Final take-homes….

If you’re planning on taking a walk at some point, make it the morning or lunchtime. Things will always crop up with work later in the day, and your steps will be the first thing to neglect. Get those steps in early and you’ll be on your way to a more active lifestyle.

Please let us know how you get on and check out our MOVE MORE and SIT LESS at the office poster to keep you motivated!

Download our really useful Move More and Sit Less at the Office poster by clicking here:  MOVE MORE and SIT LESS at the office


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