Which is the winner? 10,000 steps a day on a pedometer or cardio aerobics classes — even if they’re done only a few times a week?
Rethink putting all your eggs in that basket called “10,000 Steps a Day” and focus on cardio classes.
For the study, headed by Gordon Bell of the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, 128 sedentary women and men ages 27 to 65 were recruited. None had known disease.
After six months, subjects in a supervised aerobics program had far greater reductions in systolic (the “top number”) blood pressure; perceived exertion; and peak oxygen uptake.
Do 10,000 steps a day keep the doctor away?
The paper explains that the number of steps in the walking group were gradually built up until they were prescribed 10,000 steps daily — to be completed every day of the week.
They completed 92 percent of this prescription. The adherence rate was not surprising, since pedometer use is easy and requires very little planning.
The aerobics fitness group, on the other hand, had heart rate monitoring during exercise plus a few other requirements.
Both groups experienced fitness benefits such as lower body mass index. But those in the traditional aerobics program had a greater improvement in fitness than did the walkers.
It’s crucial to note that the “walking” for this study was mere walking to reach a total of 10,000 steps a day.
Merely accumulating 10,000 steps every day is not the fairest way to make a comparison against aerobics classes.
Not only would I like to see a comparison between aerobics classes and walking using high intensity interval training, but also walking at a moderately intense pace, sustained for 45 minutes.
I’m not the least bit surprised that in this study, the aerobics classes came out the winner, because these are designed to get the heart rate elevated, and there is fluctuation in moves, so that there are periods that are challenging mixed in with easier sequences.
Merely accumulating 10,000 steps every day does not necessarily involve elevation in heart rate or getting heavily winded.
The 10,000 steps a day approach is fine as a backdrop to a more concrete fitness program, but should not be considered the be-all, end-all, for fitness.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.