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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #330. Ten thousand steps.
September 01, 2022

Ten Thousand Steps

Wife, Patty, has a fitness tracker watch. A friend was wearing one and Patty liked it and bought one for herself. Don’t ask me the brand name. But it measures blood pressure, heart rate, number of steps taken in a day, and a whole bunch of other things, even sleep patterns. Patty is high-tech. I still straddle the 20th and 21st centuries.

What is curious is that her purchase occurred at about the same time I was reading that doing 40 push-ups indicated heart fitness (I wrote about it in an earlier newsletter), and now she’s wearing a watch that measures steps-per-day as a fitness indicator.

How indicative, really, of heart health and fitness are these measurements? Honestly, I don’t know. Certainly being able to do 40 push-ups in a row demonstrates a good degree of upper-body strength and overall fitness. Those who can do them should be pleased. Still, the credence given the 40 push-ups test as an indicator of actual heart health is, to me, at least a bit questionable.

Another recent measurement (supposedly scientific) claims some longevity predictability can be based on your ability to rise from the floor with legs crossed to standing without assistance. Certainly strong legs and a good degree of flexibility are required. (Note: women, generally, may be at a somewhat anatomical disadvantage doing this, though it is not mentioned in what I read). But is it at all a predictor of life span?

Back to the other measurement tool, fitness tracker watches. It has become a common belief that one’s goal should be taking 10,000 steps per day. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with doing that much walking. But where did this figure of 10,000 come from? Is there good science to back it up? Maybe. Maybe not. Could the fitness-watch manufacturer have had a hand in coming up with that exact number? Widespread belief in it would sell a lot fitness watches. Recently, the 10,000 number was questioned and is now revised downward to 7,500 steps. You can look up the steps question here.

I hope any longevity measurement skepticism on my part doesn’t lead you to think I’m discounting the value of doing push-ups or taking a lot of steps-per-day. I love push-ups (though at my age I do resistance band chest presses instead) and walking and swimming. Biking and jogging (running) are off my plate. But exactly how many steps per day should be taken for cardio fitness? Let’s agree that all movement is good. But maybe be just a little suspicious of the exact numbers passed around as predictors of longevity.

In any event, if striving for exact numbers helps people achieve fitness, I’m all for it. Patty loves techie devices and it fits her personality. I, on the other hand, tend to trust how a number of repetitions feel when deciding how much I do. When I was younger, I was a meticulous keeper of training journals, with precise records of sets, reps, pounds lifted, and distances traveled.

But not so much anymore.

In my beginners’ program for seniors, I recommend starting out with a five-minute walk, and adding five minutes on each subsequent outing until regular 30-minute walks are achieved. How many steps are taken during the walks? I don’t know. It’s individually determined, depending on each person’s pace and distance traveled. As one becomes more fit, however, pace and distance should be increased.

But for those who insist on knowing their exact numbers, a steps tracker might be just the ticket.

Stay healthy. Stay fit.


Senior Exercise Central

My Photographs: Subscribers ask when the newsletter photo at the top and my website pictures were taken. As I write this, I’m 85 years old. The photos were taken when I was a mere 70. Though I remain active, I am no longer nearly as muscular as I was 15 years ago. —LF

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Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines, and television, this newsletter and my website contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and website provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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