When is the last time you've heard someone (or maybe even yourself) say, “Got to get my 10,000 steps in today”? Probably pretty recently.
With new smart watches and health trackers blossoming over the last few years, counting steps and trying to achieve a particular number of steps has become a revolution that many undertake in an effort to be more healthy. Walking to lose weight? Sounds pretty easy.
However, a new study out of BYU reveals that this might not be the case. The study monitored 120 freshman students that were assigned to walk 10,000, 12,500, or 15,000 steps respectively for six days per week over the course of 24 weeks.
Contrary to the expectations of some, this focus on daily walking was not enough to prevent participating students from gaining an average of 3.5 pounds in the 24 week period. (According to previous studies, freshman students gain an average of 2 to 9 lbs during the first year of college.)
“Exercise alone is not always the most effective way to lose weight,” lead author Bruce Bailey, professor of exercise science at BYU, said in a summary of the study’s findings. “If you track steps, it might have a benefit in increasing physical activity, but our study showed it won’t translate into maintaining weight or preventing weight gain.”
Walking, of course, can’t hurt in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, but perhaps bigger changes are needed in order to lose weight.
“The biggest benefit of step recommendations is getting people out of a sedentary lifestyle,” Bailey. “Even though it won’t prevent weight gain on its own, more steps is always better for you.”