There has been a bit of a fuss in the media about two health reports which have come out. In one a scientist says the idea of having a goal of 10,000 steps a day has no basis in actual science and could do more harm than good. My dad who was a scientist was always a bit sceptical of news items which included ‘scientists say’…
The argument by Dr Hager, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is that the evidence for 10,000 steps being the right goal in order to become fitter and more healthy is based on one single study in 1960 in Japan. He may be right, he probably is, but he is sort of missing the point… people need targets and something to aim at – just saying I’m going for a walk every day doesn’t really work, if the walk is to the bottom of the garden and back! Another thing he mentioned was that it might be an unrealistic target for some people – well, I think people realise that – and I’m sure whatever they are using to count their steps will allow them to set their own lesser target!
There was a very good article in our paper a few days ago by Anna Magee, editor of Healthista entitled ‘Don’t Mess With My 10,00 steps’ which you can read here:
The point she makes is it is motivational, it is achievable, you don’t need any fancy equipment, you don’t need to pay to go to a gym, you can walk up and down your own stairs to achieve it – but it might just make people go outside and walk around and enjoy all the other things being outside and walking about brings – seeing and observing things, meeting people, exploring different streets and paths as well as the countryside.
The other news item about health which caught my eyes was that the idea of eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day is not going to improve your health – you need to eat ten. For some people it might be easy – a couple of bits of fruit at breakfast, another couple (but different fruit) in the morning, four salad items at lunch time, four other vegetables for dinner – how expensive is that going to be for most people – even if they actually like fruit and vegetables enough to eat that quantity. My husband for example just doesn’t like any green vegetables except peas and beans; he doesn’t like uncooked vegetables except tomatoes, he isn’t really keen on things such as celery (except cooked) aubergine (in any form) courgettes or marrow… This then means if I buy a cabbage for example, because I like it, I just can’t eat it all before it has only small, but I am still working my way through it.
I love vegetables, but I would struggle to eat ten different ones a day – and also I would get bored – and I am sure lots of people would too! I know it is fashionable to have drinks made of fruit and vegetables, but to me that is revolting – the idea of drinking a kale and carrot smoothie… yeugh!
I read another article about this piece of news and the point made was the practicality of it; the writer mentioned having a family and the amount of peeling, chopping, preparing that needs to be done for that amount of produce for a family of four or five or six…
I’m sorry, but for most people the important thing is to be able to manage their exercise and their diet – and I am going to use an acronym which I came across when I was teaching – I hated clever acronyms, but in actual fact this one does apply to targets, SMART:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement – like getting fitter and or losing weight
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress – I can manage 10,000 steps and 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables a day – and maybe sometimes I will do more!
- Assignable – specify who will do it – in a family who is going to be able to prepare the food which is going to be eaten taking account of the different likes and dislikes, who has the time to do it, who has the ability to do it
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources – I couldn’t run five miles, I wouldn’t go to a gym or weight room – I can manage to walk 10,00 steps or more!
- Time-related – specify when the results can be achieved – and I think added to this is another time-related factor involved in walking or buying/preparing food
By the way, my featured image would feed a family – it’s way too much for just me, and making a small enough portion would be impossible!