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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

10,000 steps a day keeps the doctor away

Lanie Stem ’25 taking a walk with friends in an attempt to reach her daily goal of 10,000 steps, Nov. 18. PHOTO COURTESY OF LANIE STEM ’25

Ever since I received a Fitbit for Christmas in 2013 when I was 10, I have been an avid step counter. I would chase that feeling of the buzz on my wrist and the confetti sprinkled across the screen of my watch, congratulating me for hitting my daily step goal.

Although my Apple Watch doesn’t have quite the same fanfare for hitting a step goal, I still check every day to see if I have reached my goal of 10,000 steps. Depending on my schedule or workload, some days are more difficult for me to meet my goals.

So, I set out to do better, to try to hit 10,000 steps a day for a week.

Like many people, I landed on the magic number of 10,000 without knowing why. Ten thousand was a marketing scheme for a Japanese pedometer company because the Japanese characters for 10,000 look like a man walking, according to a June 2023 Washington Post article.

But Dr. Joanne Mazzarelli, director of the Cardio-Oncology and Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship programs at Cooper University Health Network in Camden, New Jersey, said there is some health science behind that number.

“Any type of physical activity, starting with a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, you’ll start to see some health benefits, like better cardiopulmonary conditioning where you get less breathless with activity, experience some weight loss, have better joint laxity,” Mazzarelli said.

The benefits don’t stop there, Mazzarelli said.

“There’s orthopedic benefits, there’s benefits with depression, it lowers the rate of depression or can be used as a treatment for depression in conjunction with other methodologies,” Mazarreli said. “Multiple benefits extend beyond the heart.”

Emily Horan ’25, a member of the club field hockey team, said she aims for 10,000 steps a day for these reasons.

“Ten thousand was a goal my mom and I had made for ourselves based on the physical and mental benefit,” Horan said.

Jay Shanahan ’25, a distance runner on the St. Joe’s men’s track and cross country teams, tries to get 25,000 steps a day.

“I believe that this number is effective as it more than doubles the recommended daily amount and is a difficult number to get to without doing cardio, such as running,” Shanahan said.

I began by downloading the app StepsApp, which gave me reminders of how close I was to my goal so I did not have to obsessively check multiple times a day.

On my first day, a typical Monday with three back-to-back classes, I walked to Bellarmine Hall from my house at 10 a.m., a two-minute walk, then to Mandeville Hall, another two minutes, and finally to Merion Hall, a seven-minute walk.

By the time I got back to my house at 2 p.m., I had 3,500 steps, far below my goal. I ate lunch and then went on a four-block walk, which added another 1,500 and got me halfway.

At this point, I panicked. It was already 3 p.m., and I was just hitting half of the goal. So I began pacing around my house, doing a lap around each floor every 10 minutes.

After driving my roommates insane for three hours with my obsessive walking, I gained another 2,000 steps and was one long walk away from my first day of counting 10,000 steps.

Over the course of my week of step counting, I came to see a lot of benefits. I really enjoyed the walks I went on, whether alone or with friends, and I enjoyed the feeling of pride that came with achieving a goal every day.

However, any habit can become unhealthy if done in excess, and this is a lesson I learned early on in my experiment.

Because I had to cram my steps on day one, I checked my watch hourly on day two. On that day, my step count seemed to crawl because I was checking every menial increment. I recognized this behavior was making the challenge even harder than it was, and from that point on, I only checked three times a day.

In the end, I decided 10,000 is a healthy goal worth stepping for. I don’t need to beat myself up over not meeting it. And that’s what counts.

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