I don’t know about anyone else, but during lockdown, everyone around me seemed to suddenly become obsessed with counting their steps. It was like people had all convened and decided that 10,000 steps was the number to hit and suddenly it was all they could talk about. We’d meet for coffee and a walk and it would be ‘Great, and sure we can get our few steps in while we’re at it!’. And God forbid if the step target isn’t met there’s some sort of personal failure attached to the pedometer, a downcast look and a ‘Yeah, I haven’t been good for getting my steps in recently’.
I often wonder was it another one of those lockdown phenomenon, like our recent obsession with all things retro reflecting our need for comfort from the past in the face of an uncertain future. Was it that there was comfort in having an achievable goal at a time when many of us became rudderless, listless and lacking in social routines? And why 10,000 exactly? It seems awfully rounded off and neat to me.
Anyway, I got curious and decided to research this 10,000 steps thing, and apparently (at least according to The Standard), the 10,000 steps mandate didn’t originate from any health authority or particular scientific research. It actually has its origins in a 1965 campaign that was airing in Japan right before the Tokyo Olympics. A pedometer invented by Dr Yoshiro Hatano who worked for a company called Yamesa named his device 'Manpo-kei', which literally translates as, '10,000-step meter'. The arbitrary number was seemingly pulled from nowhere, being deemed as merely reflective of what constitutes an active lifestyle.
And it was such an effective ad, we still use this measurement today!
But regardless, getting a high step count in our day is important – but not because of the number. It is the manner in which you do your steps – brisk walking is key, not the actual amount of steps. But either way, 10,000 is an admirable goal and a good way to motivate people to get up and out, so we’re all about encouraging that!
Check out some of these sneaky ways to motivate yourself to reach your goal and fit in more steps to your daily routine to keep that heart rate and energy levels up!
Get a pedometer
Ah, back where the 10,000 steps all began. And like I said, the ad campaign was so effective that it’s still a motivator over 50 years later! There’s a pedometer out there for everyone and it’s made all the easier by the fact that we can now carry it around on our phones with us. If you’re someone who doesn’t like a lot of notifications or fuss, you can just have your plain and simple step counter. But if you need a little more motivation, there are tons of different kinds of apps out there with reminders, motivators, nudges and incentives to get your 10,000 done, if you’re in need of a push that day.
Your 10,000 doesn’t have to be done all in one go! We live busy lives and sometimes we can’t set aside an entire chunk of time in the evening or morning to one thing. Try to take breaks during the day to fit in some steps – these small intervals of activity are actually really great for beating a sedentary lifestyle that has you stuck at your office desk. Little pockets of activity, like skipping for five minutes in the garden, walking around the block on your break or going for a quick morning run can build up your steps so it doesn’t seem as daunting after work!
If the above sounds like a lot of hassle and disruption in your day, we get it, but it’s super beneficial to at least give it a go. You can find a little more motivation to do it by setting goals. For example, say you want to be at least hitting 3,000 by the end of your lunch break, or get up to 2,000 before you start work to give yourself a head start later on. Quick tip: Actually write down these goals each day to tick off as you achieve them. We’re much more likely to achieve goals we write down than the ones we keep in our minds.
Make life a little more difficult
This sounds counterintuitive but we mean it in the best way. When you’re doing your evening shopping, park your car a little further away than usual. If you have errands to run, try to leave the car at home if you can and walk between the all.
Change coffee dates to walking dates
Or have them both at the same time! In the last year we’ve become experts at the coffee and walk catch up, so there’s no reason for this good habit to get waylaid just because cafés are open now. Socialising and exercising in one go gives your brain double amounts of happy chemicals, so it’s a win win all around really!