Oskar Wikholm | 9.11.2020

Significance of daily step count

Mars kaamos! step campaign

Walking is the most natural way to move and go from the place to another for a human. There is clear benefits of walking for wellbeing and health. Among other things, walking improves endurance, the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system, and helps with weight management. Walking is also basically a low-threshold form of exercise, it is easy to do for most of people and it does not require major preparations in advance.

Reducers of incidental activity

Our everyday lifestyle and technological solutions allow us to have a easy life with a very little amount of walking. Food, clothing and other stuff can be ordered directly to home, health care, banking and other services can be handled from the couch and moving outside can be done even with a scooter. The development of technological solutions can be seen, for example, in cameras that are sold with new ovens – so you don’t have to walk to the kitchen to look at food, as long as you look at the phone screen.

All of these solutions make our lives easier and can be pleasing, but at the same time they also drop a few vital steps from every day. Over the past year, many people may have noticed how walking and the number of steps have dropped due to remote working and social isolation. The incidental activity of work and hobbies from the front door to the bus stop or car has changed to a few steps from the bedroom to the kitchen or workroom.

A study published in summer at the Annals of Internal Medicine magazine showed a significant drop in the number of steps worldwide in the follow-up period from January to June. In the study, step counts were obtained from smartphones from more than 400 000 individuals in 187 different countries. Globally, the number of steps decreased by an average of 27% due to coronavirus restrictions.

Is there a need for a change in your daily number of steps?

Many of us have the opportunity to find out own step count, for example with the help of a smartphone or a wearable device. The step data received from the phone may not tell the exact truth, but it does provide approximate info of the big picture. So it is good to take a look at own step count to see if there is a need for a change. The minimum number of steps for health is 9,000-11,000 steps per day according to Finnish recommendations. An ideal is about 13,000 steps per day. In the same way that the above things reduce your daily steps, you can increase your steps little by little throughout the day – everything counts and even the shortest walks are good for your health.

When we are talking about the number of steps, it doesn’t matter if you decide to go for a walk outside or whether you take steps inside, for example, during an hour’s work call at home. It it always good to go outdoors as it includes huge variety of health benefits, but the most important thing is to be able to increase walking, on a very low threshold and in almost any environment. Besides, walking indoors allows the foot to work more versatile when the mechanical support of the shoe is lacking between the base and foot sole. From the point of view of aerobic endurance, it is better to increase the duration and intensity of walking.

There are many simple options for increasing the number of steps:

  • Do all the work calls by walking
  • Attend to remote meetings by walking
  • Do a short walk before the work day, which corresponds a normal walk to a bus stop or parking lot
  • Take a short walk on a lunch break, which is equivalent of moving to a lunch restaurant
  • Go to grocery shopping by walking or choose a car park from a little further of the store. You can get a great amount of steps from the big supermarkets
  • Take a long walk outdoors in your free time. Finland is full of wonderful nature.
  • You can also enjoy culture on foot. You can walk in art museums and exhibitions

We will launch In November a walking campaign Mars kaamos! which is intended to increase or maintain the daily number of steps that are important for wellbeing and health. Everyone has the opportunity to increase them.

Oskar Wikholm

Oskar Wikholm: Toimin työfysioterapeuttina Heltissä ja olen äärimmäisen kiinnostunut liikkeen ja liikkumisen vaikutuksista niin yksilön, yhteisön kuin yhteiskunnan hyvinvointiin ja terveyteen. Vapaa-aikani kuluu pitkälti poluilla juostessa ja koripallokentällä valmentaessa.