Diabetes Management

Is Walking 10,000+ Steps a Day Enough to Keep You Fit and Your Blood Sugars in Control?

Debjani M Arora ,
May 2022

A few days back, I caught up with an old friend after almost a decade. This friend is a highly indisciplined foodie turned into a disciplined Zumba-pilates-yoga instructor. After settling into a cosy banter, she casually looked at her fitness watch and exclaimed in joy – “8526 steps, that’s cool, enough for today.” I asked her shouldn’t she aim for 10,000 steps a day. Isn’t that the deal?  

She looked at me perplexed and said NO, it isn’t. I wondered why most of us are so enthused about completing the standard 10,000 steps a day. To put my mind to rest and be sure that my thoughts on fitness aren’t vague ideas, I reached out to our expert Dr Anuradha Mandlekar, HOD Physiotherapy Services, Fitterfly Healthtech Pvt Ltd. 

The big question – Will walking 10,000 steps help burn calories and bring blood sugars in control? 

“Yes, it will, because your body is getting a workout and your cardio fitness is taken care of. But, completing 10,000 steps will only take care of your cardio fitness. And cardio alone is not enough. Our internal data shows that people who have opted for cardio + strength training showed a better drop in their HbA1c levels, around 2.2 % along with proper nutrition and stress management. So, for better outcomes, only 10,000 steps might not be enough,” says Dr Anuradha.

Then why are we so enthused about this idea of completing 10,000 steps a day? 

She explains, “There is proper research behind these numbers. According to international associations like the American Diabetes Association or the American College of Sports Medicine, walking 10,000 to 12,000 steps per day helps you achieve a level of moderate-intensity workout which is equivalent to a workout of 30 to 40 minutes a day. 

The American Heart Association also recommends a physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week for better cardiovascular health. Research says that walking 10,000 steps a day (every day) can be equivalent to those 150 minutes of physical activity per week.”    

So, 10,000 steps is STILL a big deal? 

Here is the catch: “One should understand that there is a thin line between being physically active and being a regular exerciser. The latter would follow a structured exercise routine for better health and muscle strength, which will include cardio and strength training.  If you are doing 10,000 steps a day (at least 5 to 6 days a week) you are physically active and meeting the criteria for 150 minutes of physical activity a week. But the other aspect of fitness – strength training remains ignored,” further explains Dr Anuradha. However, if you walk 8000 or 10,000 steps twice or thrice a week, you neither qualify as being physically active or a regular exerciser.   

To do or not to do – addressing the 10,000 steps walking dilemma 

Here are some more facts that you need to consider: 

Don’t miss out on strength training

“If you are walking 10,000 steps a day it will boost your cardiovascular health but adding strength training to your exercise plan will help you to work on your major muscle groups like – your back, buttocks, arms and chest. This will help to boost stamina, improve flexibility, help in weight management and control blood sugars too. It is better to spread out your exercise routine through the week giving equal importance to cardio and weight training,” says Dr Anuradha. Just 30 minutes of strength training two days a week can make all the difference. 

Don’t aim for 10,000 steps at a stretch

You are supposed to complete 10,000 steps in the entire day. You don’t have to push yourself to do it in one go. Remember, 10,000 steps equates to 8 or 9 kilometers that can take up to 1 hour 30 minutes to complete depending on your strides and walking speed. So, if you are so focused on completing your 10,000 steps which looks like a mammoth task to complete during your 40-50 minutes of morning walk, break your target into smaller goals. Like 5000 steps during a morning walk, 2000 steps while running errands (grocery shopping, picking kids from school etc.), 2000 steps while playing with kids or running your pet and a few thousand after your dinner. 

Make 10,000 steps a substitute for days when you don’t exercise

 Try not to make 10,000 steps a day your primary goal of exercise. Your weekly exercise plan should have a mix of cardio + strength training. “In fact, on a busy day when you miss exercise, walking 10,000 steps could be a good substitute,” says Dr Anuradha. However, our expert tells us that to qualify as a regular exerciser, you need to do at least 30 to 45 minutes of structured exercise (cardio+strength training) minimum 5 days a week, along with walking at least 8000 steps a day. 

So, I understand why my friend was happy with her 8526 steps that day. She went to the gym in the morning as it was her leg day and conducted 2 Zumba sessions till evening. That’s lots of workout too. So, 10,000 steps wasn’t the deal for her.

 

Exercise plays an important role in weight management and controlling diabetes. But without proper guidance it could be difficult to achieve your health goals or bring down your HbA1c levels. 

Our unique diabetes care program – Diabefly helps one manage or even reverse diabetes. Our specialized physiotherapists offer tailor-made solutions to meet your fitness needs. Exercises are planned and designed after a detailed physical assessment to help one reach his/her health goals – weight management, blood sugar control or getting rid of aches and pains and supported with nutrition and mental-wellbeing solutions. We take a scientific approach in designing exercises for our members. In fact, pain management is a core component of our exercise plans. Exercises when planned scientifically can make a whole difference in controlling blood sugar levels. Our program takes a holistic approach to cater to all the problems related to your blood sugars – nutrition and stress management along with fitness. 

Visit our website https://www.fitterfly.com/diabefly or call us at 022 48971077 (Ext 1) to know more about this program.

 

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