Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10,000 Steps: The Art of Manpo-kei

When I first started using Fitbit, in January,  I wasn't hip to the idea that walking 10,000 steps a day was a fitness metric.  It took me a few days to figure out that the community of Fitbit defaulted to 10,000 steps as a daily goal. I  don't get an exploding happy face on my step count unless I reach it.  10,000 seemed like a nice round number to me, though I am just as interested in the number of floors I climb and how many of my minutes are "very active." 

Today I learned that a Japanese watch manufacturer, a man named Yamasa Tokei, invented the pedometer in 1965.  He relied on research from that time by Dr. Yoshiro Hatano to set the 10,000 steps metric. Dr. Hatano  observed that Japanese were walking, on average, between 3500 and 5000 steps a day and were becoming obese.  Tokei's pedometers became popular among Japanese, and before long walking clubs sprang up. Everyone in Japan has a pedometer, apparently, as each household owns more than 3! The Japanese word for the device Tokei invented is called "Manpo-kei,"  which translates into "10,000 steps meter."

Somehow or another--probably when Tokei started selling the pedometers in the US market--the metric stuck.  Here's a Google translation of the company's history of the pedometer from their website:  

1965[Pedometer] paces meter"Total number of steps" of Japan's first consumer goods 
Released "paces meter" the No. 1
※ 100 steps a graduated in mechanical analog. Price 2,200 yen each. Walking is reviewed (it was not cheap never starting salary of university graduates at the time because the era of 2-30000 yen) to eliminate the lack of exercise at the time, organizations that recommends exercise, etc. "10,000 steps a day" is positive It became the hit, along with the flow of society as a whole to promote activities such as automatically. 
Read the ads and news articles at the time of the release

So is the 10,000-step goal  merely a marketing gimmick? No, it's a baseline.   As it turns out, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 10,000 steps a day--as a long-term goal--for good health and to ward off diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  According to the AHA website, seven out of ten Americans does not get  "enough" exercise.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't use a step count, but recommends 5 hours a week of brisk walking plus 2 major muscle groups strength-training workouts.  CDC figures that "brisk walking" results in a 15-minute mile, or four miles an hour, or roughly 7500 steps.  Mind you, that's 7500 brisk steps, not steps between the couch and the refrigerator.  .  .   All of these metrics vary with age, so check for yourself.  Kids should move a whole lot more than adults.  

Since January I've been averaging 10,000 steps--or Manpo-kei-- a day.  In addition, I've been skiing and snowshoeing, taking yoga classes regularly, and riding my bicycle indoors on a trainer.  I am pretty darn active, I am careful about what I eat, and yet, I haven't lost a pound.   Catrine Tudor-Locke, an authority on step counting and fitness and the author of Manpo-Kei: The Art and Science of Step Counting:  How to be Naturally Active and Lose Weight recommends a "More than Before" approach.  She encourages establishing a baseline first.   For me, that baseline is now Manpo-kei. To lose the five pounds I would like to shed, I'm going to aim for an average of 12,500 steps per day for the next four weeks and re-analyze at that time.  Let me know if you can  say that  in Japanese. . . 

What about you?  Are you doing what our bodies were created to do and love to do--moving?  And good luck with your Manpo-kei practice!

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