How many steps should I take to get healthy?

Because we see so many of the “step challenges” all over the internet, many people have developed an obsession over how much they walk in any single day.  The following is some important details about walking, activity and health.  So here goes…

  1. Activity is good, but blind activity rarely produces the results someone wants.

The idea that if you just start walking a bunch that you will all the sudden achieve the health and fitness goals you have is somewhat like saying that if I just start driving I will reach my destination.  We all know that if you drive the wrong direction you aren’t helping yourself, and unfortunately more often than not, arbitrarily chosen step counts as fitness goals are no different than driving just to drive.  It is important to remember that when trying to change the human body, results are really very predictable.  If you want to look like a marathon runner, live and train like a marathon runner.  Want to look like a body builder, train and live like a body builder.  The gist of it is simple.  If you want to look like a high volume walker, go ahead and train and live like a high volume walker.  If you don’t though, you probably SHOULDN’T TRAIN AND LIVE LIKE A HIGH VOLUME WALKER!

  1. High repetition activities often come with injuries due to overuse and error.

In the past, it was uncommon for people to have walking related overuse injuries, but they are becoming more and more common as people are making high volume walking their targets.  We are seeing a large increase of people with foot knee and hip injuries occurring from walking with improper form (yep, turns out there is a right and wrong way to walk!).  It is important to remember that if you are overweight, your body will compensate for the weight and try to change what body parts perform movements.  This is the usual reason for the overuse injuries we see so commonly.

  1. I can’t exercise because…

If you feel as though you cannot do any other exercise, odds are pretty good you are wrong.  Many people experience pains when they exercise not because they cannot exercise, but because they are exercising incorrectly.  Having yourself evaluated by a highly qualified specialist can eliminate the question of whether exercise is safe for you or not.  If more common exercise methods are determined to not be safe for you, there are many alternatives that most people can do.  Swimming is an excellent near impact less way to help get healthy, and if an option, I would recommend it far before a high volume walking routine.

  1. I might hate it, but it does have some good!

To be clear, most people are far too sedentary and walking can be a decent start to an active lifestyle.  It goes wrong when it becomes a volume obsession.  If you are experiencing pains while walking it is a good indicator you are likely doing something wrong or simply overdoing it.  If you can walk correctly without compensation and aren’t having any pains then go ahead and keep walking, you probably aren’t past your limit.  Remember though, your body is going to build like a walker not a sprinter so make sure that is your goal!  Have a reason for why you are walking 2000 or 6000 or 31019 steps as a target, and then go ahead and work towards your INTELLIGENTLY decided goal!