Recently, an article came through my news feed called "10,000 steps or bust?" It's truly a great read - the author takes you on a journey of how the 10,000 step target started, and how it gained traction over the years.
COVID lockdowns and work from home has certainly helped a lot of people meet this target, whether by deliberate effort to remain active, a need to change the scenery, or just by having the time. For others, their step count has plummeted without the daily commute.
The take home message of the article is this:
It is certainly true that high intensity exercise (HIT) is associated with measurable improvements across many health dimensions. But what happens on that day you slept in, or ran late, or... simply just didn't feel up to it? Consistency counts. It counts when brushing your teeth. It counts in a relationship. And it counts with your activity level. Low-intensity exercise (like walking), even at a lower volume (under 10,000 steps), is still better than no exercise. "The more steps people walked, the lower their risk of dying was...".
So, if gamification (setting a goal of 10,000 steps) helps you to find ways of being more active, you are certainly better off. But if you realistically won't make your 10,000 steps, look for ways to add some extra steps where you can. Some activity is better than no activity.
"While the World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity), research also shows that even low-intensity exercise can improve your health — through moderate-intensity exercise improves it to a greater extent."