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10,000 steps a day VS quick bursts of energy – which is better for you?

What sounds more appealing, ticking off your daily exercise routine in 45 minutes or packing in 10,000 steps a day? With trends like F45 Training and Crossfit capitalising on our desire to reach our fitness goals in a small space of time, we take a look at which exercise is best to help you live a longer and leaner life.

High intensity exercise
The popularity of short, high intensity workouts is growing and it’s easy to see why. Between long work days and busy family life, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate to a lengthy daily exercise regime.

These workouts are designed to elevate your heart rate with short bursts of high intensity activity alternated with low-intensity recovery breaks, with research showing they can help burn more calories in less time, elevate metabolism and burn fat.

There’s also another, less obvious, benefit to formats like F45 and Crossfit – there’s a sense of community that comes with a shared sweat session, a benefit you don’t necessarily get pounding the pavement. 

What about 10,000 steps?
Surprisingly, given its status as a daily exercise goal, the 10,000 steps a day concept originated in Japan in the lead-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a marketing strategy to sell step counters.

Nowadays, the 10,000 step benchmark is used by researchers worldwide as a reasonable gauge of daily activity for healthy adults. Unfortunately, we’re a long way off with the average Kiwi only taking 4,582 steps every day.

Walking is great for your health. It can help you live longer and has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. And the more steps the better. Australian research showed people who increased their steps from 1,000 to 10,000 a day had a 46% lower mortality risk - walk further and live longer! It might seem like a large amount but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, especially when you break it down over an entire day. Ten thousand steps is equivalent to around 8kms, or an hour and 40 minutes of walking depending on your stride length and walking speed.

So what’s better for your health?
Whether you choose short bursts or slow and steady, the most important thing is to keep moving. Moving more and sitting less will help you build strong muscles and bones, lose weight, help prevent and manage mental health problems and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Find an exercise you enjoy so you stick with it, and importantly, enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day. Add in incidental exercise like walking the dog, choosing the stairs and leaving the car at home whenever you can.