Is it time to call BS on 10,000 steps?


If you own a piece of wearable tech, that’s a number you will be more than familiar with.

Some people are obsessed with it, or sometimes, even haunted by it.

Because that piece of kit is more than likely connected to an App. And that App knows full well whether or not you hit your 10,000 steps today. And it can go back in time and tell you at a glance on what days you missed them.

The concept of 10,000 steps per day was first popularised by the Japanese in the 1960s with the name ‘manpo-kei’ which means (not surprisingly) ’10,000 steps meter’. It was essentially a marketing gimmick to sell pedometers.

Since then, it has been endorsed by such esteemed bodies as the American Heart Association, as the standard amount of steps per day to help keep you healthy.

And there’s no doubt – it is a handy number. It’s an achievable target. It burns a solid amount of calories and gets your heart pumping. For most people, 10,000 steps each day burns off one pound, or just under half a kilo, per week. That may not sound like much, but over a month, that’s almost two kilos, just from walking around throughout the day!

Your wearables and Apps will tell you how many steps you took, how many calories you burned, what zones your heart was in at various times and so on.

(And even better, HeadUp is taking all those data points and turning them into insights that will help you even more!).

But what about another, smaller number?


That’s the minimum amount of exercise per day that many organisations (like the aforementioned AHA) recommend you do to stay healthy.

It might be a brisk walk, it may be a run or it could be a weights session in the gym.

Whatever it is, it’s a good idea to do it for at least 30 consecutive minutes to get the most out of it.

And think of how many more years you could add to your life by giving just 30 minutes of your day to exercise.

Astonishingly, there are some people who say that they don’t have 30 minutes in the day to give to exercise … Really? Are 23 and a half hours per day of sleeping, sitting and lounging around not enough?

Who knew that being sedentary could be so time consuming …

So … which is it? 10,000 steps or 30 minutes?

The answer is really, both.

Individually, each one is beneficial – but collectively, they’re a powerful combination.

Most fitness experts will tell you that in order to get maximum benefit from your daily exercise, you need to keep it up for at least 30 minutes.

And numerous studies say that half an hour of moderate intensity exercise like walking each day can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular related diseases.

It all comes down to Total Energy Expenditure (TEE), and the only way to get a good number is by having more calories out in a day than calories in – you need to burn more energy than you consume.

So when you combine incidental exercise with dedicated exercise (10,000 steps + 30 minutes) you’re well on your way.

Copyrights Kath & Kim

Copyrights Kath & Kim

At HeadUp, we know the value of knowing your data. We've been able to analyse people's activity data and give them personalised recommendations on how many steps and how much exercise they should include in their days to be at their best. We've actually been able to quantify the amount of activity they should add to their activity routine and identify the level of intensity they can target. 

We know the value of making yourself as active as you possibly can be.

So try to make 10,000 + 30 as your baseline. But go for more of each if you can.

AI, wearables, data, the Internet of Things, and yes, HeadUp are all giving you more and more tools and information to help make your life as long and healthy as possible.

But you have to take the first step…

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more health insights and jump onto our Twitter feed for our take on the current #health and #tech space.