Dr Kevin Lee was recently interviewed by Lianhe Zaobao on his views regarding a recent study which compared the benefits and ease of doing 10,000 steps a day against something called, “Active 10” where you simply aim to do three brisk 10-minute walks a day.
In this study, they found that the Active 10 group actually did 30% more ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ than the 10,000-step group, even though they moved for less time.
Dr Lee’s interview questions were:
1. Are the findings accurate that three sessions of brisk 10mins walk per day are more effective than to 10,000steps a day? Why so? And is it true that it is better for health?
This is a small study and the actual conclusions of the study are that “The Active 10 group actually did 30% more ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ than the 10,000-step group, even though they moved for less time”. They did not actually measure any objective health outcomes and postulated that since the Active 10 group did 30% more moderate to vigorous physical activity, then there should be health benefits down the road if they continue doing this form of exercise. Thus, it is accurate that this Active 10 regime is more effective in getting people to do the more vigorous physical activity but you cannot conclude that it is better for health as no objective health outcomes were measured.
2. What are the benefits and disadvantages of brisk walk sessions as compared to 10,000 steps?
10000 steps a day is an arbitrary goal invented by someone who wanted to encourage people to be more active and move away from a sedentary, modern lifestyle. As with most forms of exercise, most benefits are seen from improving quality of the workout and not the quantity. 10000 steps a day is just a guide and goal for someone who is previously sedentary to work towards. You can walk 10000 steps a day but if all the steps are done at a very leisurely and slow pace, then the cardiovascular benefits might be minimal. You are still better off than being totally sedentary though. For a more effective and time-efficient workout, the brisk walk sessions as advocated in the article where the faster pace of the walks give a more vigorous workout will give you more “bang for the buck” in a shorter period of time.
3. Any particular age group that is suitable/unsuitable for brisk walking and 10,000 steps?
All age groups are suitable for walking as it is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise. If you have a heart condition or conditions affecting your walking ability such as osteoarthritis of the knees, you might want to moderate the number of steps or pace of the walks to a level that is suitable for your condition (check with your own doctors).