The 10,000 steps prescribed for weight loss or aerobic fitness has been validated many times to be both effective and reliable and correlates well with aerobic fitness. It is simple in that everyone can walk, it is cost effective, burns an adequate amount of energy, easy to remember and gives us a definitive goal.
It is beyond debate that there should always be a physical activity component included in all weight loss programs. Not so much to make a huge contribution to energy expended but to also provide major health benefits that even weight loss might not provide. The physical activity only needs to be performed at low to moderate levels of intensity, so we are not talking about high intensity fitness activities or gym activity alternatives.
Clients most surely want to lose weight but at the same time they also want to improve their health. What better way to achieve this than starting a sensible eating plan and using walking as the main form of physical activity.
But what happens if for some reason we can’t walk or don’t want to walk, what is our destiny?
Do we continue to sit while planning, preparing and eating our food or is there an alternative.
Remember that there are very serious issues to contend with by sitting too much, even in the presence of major weight loss. Sedentary people spend on average up to 10 hours a day at the lowest level of metabolism.
I was in a similar position sometime ago. After surgery I had difficulty in continuously walking although my knee was quite strong.
So I decided to look for alternatives to walking 10,000 steps.
I thought long and hard as to how could I equate any other movement to the 10,000 steps model.
I decided to calculate the number of Kcal expended in 10,000 steps and then see if I could equate it with other activities I do around the house.
I weight 80 kilos and am 179 cm tall. I calculated that an 80 kilograms person in walking 10,000 steps (which is approximately 8 kilometres) would take 80 minutes if walked at 6 kilometres per hour.
OK sounds good but what if I walked faster at 8 kilometres per hour to cover the 10,000 steps in 60 minutes?
I calculated that if I walked at 6 kilometres per hour I would expend approximately 370 Kcal in walking for 80 minutes.
I also calculated that if I walked at 8 kilometres per hour I would expend 378 K calories in walking for 60 minutes.
What could I do around the house without going anywhere and expend the same amount of Kcal that I would get from walking 10,000 steps.
I decided to calculate how much energy (Kcal expended) it would take to sweep the floor, sweep the garage, rake the leaves, mow the lawn and carry some bricks that I had to move around the garden.
So I swept the floors of the house for 15 minutes, swept the garage for 15 minutes, raked the leaves in the garden for 15 minutes, mowed the lawn for 30 minutes and carried bricks from one spot to another for 60 minutes.
To my amazement I calculated that I expended 70 Kcal sweeping the house, 84 Kcal sweeping the garage, 84 Kcal raking the leaves, 189 Kcal mowing the lawn and 672 Kcal carrying and moving bricks from one place to another.
The total number of Kcal I expended in 2.50 hours was 1,099 Kcal by just completing household activities.
If I go back and just equate my household activities with the time to complete 10,000 steps I would have completed these tasks (sweeping, raking, mowing) in 75 minutes and expended 427 Kcal in comparison to expending 370 Kcal walking 10,000 steps at 6 kilometres per hour or 380 Kcal walking at 8 kilometres speed for 60 minutes.
How can this be?
In all my household activities I used both my arms and legs with the additional movements of bending, striding, picking, pushing, squatting, lunging etc. These additional movements produced greater energy expenditure than walking alone.
I think that 10,000 steps is an excellent exercise prescription that is universally accepted as a legitimate form of physical activity for weight loss and general fitness.
However, there are some people who might find it a little too daunting, unsafe, time poor to commit to walking the 10,000 steps, etc. Now there is an alternative for them as well as giving the 10,000 step walkers the chance to move more and burn more energy!!
This teaches us never to underestimate the energy expended in life style movements as a legitimate player in the weight loss and health equation.
Making a choice to include lifestyle physical activity into our weight loss journey in combination with our 10,000 steps is a great opportunity to use heaps more additional energy that can contribute to our weight loss goal.
Additionally just think of the money we will save by sacking our house cleaner and gardener and doing the work ourselves!!