Remember when Fitbit first came out? And the whole craze about counting your steps became huge? There were office competitions, school competitions and virtually any competitive person wanted to out-walk their peers. Society became obsessed with equating their health to numerics — now with instant gratification at watching their steps increase. TikTok even carried the trend by adding ‘Hot Girl Walk’ as a popular hashtag on the app. What would be the harm in telling people to walk?
However, science has debunked the claims that 10,000 steps is the perfect number. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School, conducted a study between women from 13 years to 60 years to conduct a pedometer study. Her conclusion found that 7,000 steps is the baseline for ‘health’ which means that adding an extra 3,000 steps doesn’t truly benefit your body, let alone decrease cardio-vascular disease as some studies claim.
The main issue with the 10,000-step claim is that it doesn’t address individual health and what a ‘good’ number would be for someone. The word healthy also tends to be ambiguous because we lack the introspection to determine an individual’s health just by looking at them. How would someone who experiences a walking handicap be able to participate in the 10,000 steps? Why do we blindly follow conventional wisdom from doctors without questioning current diet trends?
The origin of 10,000 steps began in the 1960s in Japan. A Japanese marketing team decided to send pedometers to Olympic contestants for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. The pedomater was named ‘manpo-kei’ which translates to ‘10,000 step meter.’ Essentially, the pedometer could only track up to 10,000 steps, but the public followed this ideology blindly.
Ultimately it comes down to the right number for you and your personal health goals. The health sector begins a new diet fad and trend to instill body shame into regular people and the cycle continues. Health is personal and adding 10,000 steps or tying a numeric value to your worth as a person will not alleviate your dissatisfaction.