Step it Up! Improve your Health

Do you know how many steps you take every day? Do you consider yourself an active person?

pedometers encourage people to walk more steps each day

I think of myself as being active. I eat a healthy whole foods diet, go to yoga two to three days per week and I enjoy it. So while I don’t know how many steps I take each day I never worried about it for myself. I figured I was doing just fine.

I do worry about it for my patients, however.

One of the ways I set exercise goals with my patients by giving them a specific number of steps to take each day to be done in conjunction with a pedometer. A pedometer is a way measuring a how many steps you take over a period of time, usually in one day.

As a doctor I have heard that 10,000 steps a day is a goal for an active lifestyle and so that is the goal that I encouraged patients to follow. While I had no idea how far 10,000 steps are it seemed reasonable enough to me to walk 10,000 steps every day or at least five days a week.

Here is what the Journal of Sports Medicine’s 2004 article "How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health," which reports in terms of steps:

  • Less than 5,000 steps per day is considered sedentary lifestyle
  • 5,000-7,400 steps per day is typical for daily activity but considered ‘low active’
  • 7,500-9,999 steps per day is somewhat active likely (and/or elevated occupational activity demands)
  • 10,000 steps per day or more is considered active
  • 12,500 steeps or more is considered highly active

Two weeks ago I was presented with a pedometer during an American Diabetes Association event.

I have never owned a pedometer and I thought it would be a fascinating experiment to see how many steps I take a day. During the last day of my work week I put on my pedometer and sat around the office writing an article like this one.

I got up to walk around a bit. By the end of the day I had accumulated a whopping 1,190 steps. When I saw the number I was at first shocked, and promptly dismissed my experiment thinking that the pedometer wasn’t working correctly.

The next day I decided to try again as I walked to the health food store with my friend who was visiting from overseas.

At the end of my day with her I had walked 9,000 steps. Now I was quite intrigued with my experiment again.

By the end of my three-day weekend I had averaged at least 10,000 steps each day and I recognized an important pattern in my life.

During the weekends I easily manage 10,000 steps or more but during the week I’m much more sedentary than I thought. Having a pedometer on during the week is encouraging me to find ways to take breaks to be more active during my sedentary times.

There are studies that have confirmed that pedometers have the psychological effect of making people more conscious of their exercise. It can even help with mild weight loss without changing your diet because it increases exercise.

So I encourage you to pick up a pedometer and put it on for a week as your personal experiment. See what you learn about your exercise routine!

Live Vibrantly,
Dr. Dae

Dr. Dae's website:

This article was originally published on 5/15/2014.