10,000? Do I hear 15,000?

Just when you thought you were virtuous getting in your prescribed 10,000 steps a day, a study out of Scotland suggests that 10,000 may not be enough. You may need to goose that number by 50 percent.

15,000, suggests the study of 111 Scottish postal workers, may be the new health standard.

You can get up to speed with the history of 10,000 steps and details on the University of Warwick study in an article posted yesterday in the New York Times’ Well blog (see link below). The immediate question likely on your mind: How on Earth can I log 15,000 steps a day? That’s roughly 7 miles, fyi.

Dr. William Tigbe, the physician and public health researcher who led the study, told Well that logging 15,000 steps would require walking briskly for two hours at about a 4-mile-per-hour pace.

“It takes effort,” he notes.

Let’s start with those two hours a day. If you’re sleeping properly (8 hours) and have a full time job (another 8 hours), that leaves 8 hours of … free time? Free, provided you don’t have kids, don’t have errands to run, chores to do … don’t need to eat.

Two hours a day to walk? In a perfect world, perhaps.

And that’s if you can maintain a 4 mph pace. In most hiking circles, 3 mph is considered brisk. If you’re hiking at 4 mph, odds are you aren’t the person who will benefit most from a daily step regimen — you’re already there.

Personally, my Fitbit is set to go Fourth of July at 15,000 steps. I’ve met that goal for an entire week once; I feel good if I make it five days out of seven. And walking is a large part of how I make a living.

The beauty of 10,000 steps is that nearly anyone who is ambulatory can do it. All the little things health types tell you to do — park at the far end of the parking lot, take the stairs, take a 10-minute clear-your-head walk two or three times a day, go for a walk when talking on the phone — will add up to get you to 10,000 steps. I find that reaching 15,000 steps a day is near impossible without incorporating a dedicated workout of some kind, a walking workout of at least 45 minutes.

And remember, the daily step goal is meant to be met every day. Hiking 20,000 steps on a Saturday doesn’t grant absolution from 10,000 steps on Sunday. The goal is to move consistently. If you’re consistently hitting 10,000 steps a day, you’re making that happen. And hopefully, you’re feeling pretty good about it.

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Read more about the University of Warwick study in the New York Times’ Well blog story, “Should 15,000 Steps a Day Be Our New Exercise Target?”

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