Setting the pace

Getting 10,000 steps per day roughly coincides with the latest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendation that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. The key word here is "moderate" -- not all steps meet that requirement.

Shuffling around the kitchen making dinner is hardly equivalent to racing to catch a bus or walking an energetic dog. Any movement is good, of course, but to make the steps count as beneficial as possible, they should be fairly sustained. To take some of the guesswork out of exactly what constitutes a high-quality step, Simon Marshall, associate professor of exercise and nutritional science at San Diego State University, came up with a formula for an average brisk walking speed. He and other researchers tested 58 women and 39 men by putting them on a treadmill and measuring how much energy they expended.

On average, 100 steps per minute constituted a moderate walking pace (so 1,000 steps can be achieved in just 10 minutes). He offers this prompt as an easy pace-check: Keep time to the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees.


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The study was published last May in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

-- Jeannine Stein