Will 5,000 or fewer Steps a day be considered Sedentary?

01/01/2017

Is anything less than 5,000 steps per day considered sedentary?  Steps are Steps are Step.  Steps, by definition, can’t be sedentary, according to Gretchen Reynolds, columnist for The New York Times and Well blog. Walking is a physical activity, whether you take two steps in a day or 20,000. So sedentary status can’t be defined by how many or how few daily steps you manage. It depends, instead, on how much you lounge, says Reynolds.  The Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN) defines sedentary behavior as; any time a person is sitting or lying down, they are engaging in sedentary behavior.  Common sedentary behaviors include TV viewing, video game playing, computer use or “screen time”, driving automobiles, and reading. “Physical activity and sedentary behavior are best considered as distinct behaviors,” said Russell Pate, a professor of exercise science at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Physical activity involves movement, including standing and strolling. Sedentary behavior, on the other hand, includes activities that involve little or no movement, such as sitting at a computer, lying on the couch, knitting, etc.” says Dr. Pate.  He goes on to explain that a person can exercise regularly and still devote hours each day to sedentary or lounging behavior. In other words, you can take 5,000 steps in a day (equivalent to 2.5 miles) or10,000 (equivalent to 5 miles) But in both cases of accumulated steps, if those steps are concentrated into a single session of exercise and then you spend the rest of you’re awake hours sitting in a chair watching television; you will be more sedentary than active.

Research shows that long bouts of sitting are associated with many health concerns, including increased risks for weight gain, diabetes, cholesterol problems and premature death, even if you exercise. Trendy gadgets today are helpful at counting the daily steps you take and setting step goals but, fall short of identifying and warning individuals about over-sitting during the course of the day states, Dr. Pate. If your activity tracker concentrates on step counts and 5,000 is the minimum goal, then create a realistic plan each day to reach that total and more.  Additionally, stand up frequently throughout the day, stretch, move and take the stairs, so that you are more physically active.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
Author, Tudor-Locke , Bassett DR Jr- Dept. of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, Az

How many steps per day are enough?  Based on currently available evidence, the proposed will be used to classify pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
 <5,000 steps/day ‘Sedentary lifestyle behavior’
 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise ‘Low Active’
 7,500-9,999 ‘Somewhat Active
 >or=10,000 steps/day ‘Active'
 >12,500 steps/day ‘Highly Active'

CDC definition of physical activity
Physical activity. Any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level. In these Guidelines, physical activity generally refers to the subset of physical activity that enhances health.

Physical fitness. The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies. Physical fitness includes a number of components consisting of cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic power), skeletal muscle endurance, skeletal muscle strength, skeletal muscle power, flexibility, balance, speed of movement, reaction time, and body composition.
 
Exercise. A subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposive in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. "Exercise" and "exercise training" frequently are used interchangeably and generally refer to physical activity performed during leisure time with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining physical fitness, physical performance, or health.
 
Aerobic physical activity. Activity in which the body's large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time. Aerobic activity, also called endurance activity, improves cardiorespiratory fitness. Examples include walking, running, and swimming, and bicycling.

Exercise. A subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposive in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. "Exercise" and "exercise training" frequently are used interchangeably and generally refer to physical activity performed during leisure time with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining physical fitness, physical performance, or health.
 
Health-enhancing physical activity. Activity that, when added to baseline activity, produces health benefits. Brisk walking, jumping rope, dancing, playing tennis or soccer, lifting weights, climbing on playground equipment at recess, and doing yoga are all examples of health-enhancing physical activity.
 
Lifestyle activities. This term is frequently used to encompass activities that a person carries out in the course of daily life and that can contribute to sizeable energy expenditure. Examples include taking the stairs instead of using the elevator, walking to do errands instead of driving, getting off a bus one stop early, or parking farther away than usual to walk to a destination.