Over the last couple of days, there’s been some coverage about an American scientist (which seems to be a pretty endangered species in the Age Of Trump) claiming that fitness trackers and pedometers are pretty arbitrary, and not necessarily the best way to go.
Which, I think it’s fair to say, we can file under “Sherlock, Shit, No”.
Of course that 10,000 steps a day advice is arbitrary. Even the figure tells you it’s arbitrary – those nice round numbers for ‘ideals’ simply don’t occur that often in reality.
Hager claimed the 10,000 steps target dated back to a 1960s Japanese study that showed there were health benefits for men who burned at least 2,000 calories per week through exercise – roughly equivalent to 10,000 steps each day. An early pedometer was known as the manpo-kei, which means “10,000-step meter” in Japanese.
Really, if anyone is taking anything from these devices as gospel truth, they’re a fucking moron. At best, these devices are indicators.
The heartrate monitor is well known to not be accurate – but so long as it’s fairly consistent per user/wearer, it’s a decent-enough indicator of where you stand. And if it suddenly dropped to reporting 10bpm (or 200bpm) then anyone vaguely sensible would take themselves to a GP for a proper check.
The same’s true for the sleep monitor (which I do use). It’s not gospel truth. But it’s a decent-enough indicator of awake vs. disturbed ‘sleep vs. actual REM sleep. Do I believe it innately? Hell no. But does it consistently show me my bad nights vs. less-bad ones? (I’m yet to have a good night’s sleep) Yes.
And if you can’t rely on those indicators, why would you rely on the step monitor? Simple, you wouldn’t. Can you game it and mess figures simply by swinging your arms more? Yep. But what’s the point of doing that, unless all you’re interested in is attaining that arbitrary [x],000 steps in a day? The only benefit in that is you, and you’re just cheating yourself.
However, it does make for a useful indicator, and a reminder to actually move more. I can understand (kinda) why people make these things into targets, but really all that’s important is being more active. And that’s what counts.