With the advent of technology and the latest equipment, the obsession with newer health alternatives is coming to the forefront. One of them is the step count feature available in Fit Bits, Apple watches and other high-tech accessories.
Most urban people wear these bands across their wrists. Peeking every hour, fretting over a drop-in step count and pushing the limits, is a problem most people are faced with.
Is this healthy? Has anyone really researched and set this record of 10,000 steps a day? Is it beneficial for our health?
Most of us may not have answers to this. We are following it because others in our social circles are doing it too. Indeed, a blind run for the goal!
A professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, has questioned the wisdom of our fascination with taking 10,000 steps a day and has pointed out that the target could actually be damaging our health.
Every health App is propagating some or the other fitness regime, which we end up following blindly. It is essential to understand their basis, background and then make choices.
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAS) annual conference in Boston, Hager explained that the 10,000 steps target dates back to 1960s Japan when a less-than-rock-solid calculation was made that suggested the average Japanese man burned 3,000 calories if he walked 10,000 steps a day.
“Some of you might wear Fitbits or something equivalent, and I bet every now and then it gives you that cool little message ‘you did 10,000 steps today.’ But is that the right number for any of you in this room? Who knows? It’s just a number that’s now built into the apps,” Hager told the AAS conference.
But the larger problem is, that these universal goals do not take into consideration the personal capabilities of a person. Every body type is different. How about addressing the other medical conditions the person could be facing? Maybe a 10,000 step a day target could be a deterrent for some while ok for others. For some of us, 10,000 steps represent an attainable target that pushes us just the right amount, but for others it could push them past what’s healthy.
Hager explained: “I think apps could definitely be doing more harm than good. I am sure these apps are causing problems. We all know that probably the more you exercise, the better it is for you. But if you are elderly or infirm, then this is not going to be good for you.”
In a study of several hundred health apps, it emerged that just five had any scientific evidence to back up their targets. This added to recent studies that Fitbit calculations could be way off the mark.
The underlying message is very evident. Understand your body type, take advise from a doctor or knowledgeable person, apply logic, take into consideration your past ailments and then decide a target.
Accepting rules on face values, especially the ones that are followed by millions around the world, may not be a thought through decision.