The degree of movement to preserve human health has been predicted by many. 10,000 steps is the much-touted magic number was originally a marketing gimmick pulled from thin air by a Japanese pedometer manufacturer: The number “was chosen for the product because the character for ‘10,000’ looks sort of like a man walking.”
WHO recommends that people should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. This translates to less than 30 mins per day. ACSM (The American College of Sports Medicine) and the Indian Ministry of HRD also recommends similar physical activity of a minimum of 30 min for five days per week.
Let’s understand, how our ancestors moved for 2 million years, resulting in the human design, which we possess now. A recent study of the Hadza ( hunter and gathering community) people of Tanzania tracked participants’ daily movements with GPS smart watches and measured their total energy expenditure. Male Hadza averaged 11 Km a day in their foraging tasks, which included hunting small game and collecting honey. Women covered 5 km a day gathering plant foods. Their movement was not about leisure walking, rather the movement included laborious tasks of climbing trees, digging tubers, carrying game, chasing animals through trails, creeks and rough ground. The quality of the movement by our ancestors was high.
Our modern lifestyle and nature of movement has resulted in a growing movement deficit both in terms of quantity and quality. The movement to preserve the design has to be holistic, it’s not about just moving legs for walking or running. Our muscle groups across the body have been designed to carry out compound movement as part of our daily lifestyle.
Individuals should look at their current health status and plan for the quality and quantity of movement. With unhealthy body composition, mobility becomes difficult, so the planning has to be more technical in order to elicit sufficient stimulus to restore the human design and at the same time intensity should not lead to injury. People, without technical help, often miss the balance on the degree of intensity. In case of individuals with healthy composition, initial motivation could begin with movement they like and slowly, one should progress towards a holistic movement pattern which can preserve the human design. The holistic movement should ensure that the body builds strength, stamina, mobility, balance and speed.
In addition to the structured program on movement, sufficient activeness is important during the daily chores. Like our ancestors, we need not forage, but definitely we can find opportunities to do simple things, which could bridge the movement deficit.
Walking or running 10,000 steps is about 8 km and 30 mins a day is not sufficient in terms of quantity and moving 10,0000 steps is definitely not meeting the quality criteria of movement. So try different things and incorporate right quality and quantity to preserve the human design to stay heather and happier.
For detailed information on the right type of movement to preserve the human design, you can refer to “Reclaim your body – A guide to restoring health and fitness”