10,000 Steps: Gimmick or Truth?

Walking1260x830More and more we hear about the importance of walking 10,000 steps a day. There’s an app for that! But what about those who are living with diabetes? The ADA and AADE recommend 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise at least five days a week. Moderate does include a 30-minute brisk walk. It is all very confusing. Do we follow what the authorities on diabetes say or do we follow what is recommended in the morning news to live a healthy life?

10,000 steps a day started in Japan during the 1960’s. There was no research as to whether 10,000 steps were healthy however it was an excellent way to sell one of the first portable pedometers. The pedometers that started all this were called “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter.” The marketing campaign was very successful and gained popularity throughout Japan.

Eventually, it made its way to the States and is still popular today. Many doctors have gotten behind the 10,000-step craze, saying that it decreases blood pressure and improve glucose levels if consistently practiced. However, if you have high blood pressure or high blood glucose (Not the case if ketones are present,) then any daily exercise above what you are presently doing will improve your numbers over time.

The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise in addition to your day-to-day activities. The CDC does not officially recommend walking 10,000 steps a day, but suggests 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve or maintain health.

You’re probably asking yourself so what does this all mean? Is it just a tool to sell a fit-bit or is it medically necessary to live a healthy life? Maybe it is a bit of both. I have two different devices that count my daily steps, my phone, and my watch. I also know that the more exercise I do, the better I feel.

Here’s what I believe to be helpful. You need to do what works best for you, and you need to find your motivation and reason to do it. 10,000 steps a day is not your goal but someone else’s. Make your own goals around exercise and take it slowly. If you usually walk 2,000 steps a day slowly increase it. If you are not exercising and want to feel healthier, maybe you walk around the block once or twice after dinner. The real point is our species is built to move not sit. So the more we move, the better we feel. It’s nature, plain and simple.

In some cases, like Peripheral neuropathy, your doctor may have you avoid certain exercises. So, before changing or starting a new exercise routine, please consult with your physician.

For information on Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy and how it might help you; go to my website, www.diabetictalks.com today.

*All advice included in this article therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.






Published by Eliot LeBow LCSW, CDE

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy takes a holistic approach combining traditional talk therapy with diabetes education and management help. It addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of living life with diabetes while still addressing other non-diabetes related life problems to create a unique holistic approach to helping people with diabetes thrive.

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