10,000 Steps boosting health as Queenslanders challenged to 'talk the walk' this August

04 August 2022

Australians are counting their steps in record numbers' and CQUniversity physical activity researchers say the evidence is mounting that the extra steps are leading to longer' happier and healthier lives' too.

That's despite creators of the CQUniversity-delivered 10'000 Steps program admitting the number was somewhat arbitrary when the program was created 21 years ago.

But 10'000 Steps program manager Anetta Van Itallie explains the campaign and the target has stood the test of time' and she's challenging the Sunshine State to share where they are stepping during Queensland Walks Month in August.

"There's a long history in terms of the 10'000 number' the concept was formed before 1964 and the Tokyo Olympics' and it was a marketing strategy to promote people to buy new pedometers and track their steps'" she said.

"Our program started in 2001' in Rockhampton in Central Queensland' where experts believed there was a lot of power in people tracking their steps and their activity' and that's formed the basis of 10'000 Steps.

"At the time Australians were averaging about 7000 steps a day' so we added the National Physical Activity Guidelines recommended half-hour of moderate activity' that's another 3000 steps – and we needed a catchy name' so that became '10'000 Steps'' which also aligned with 10'000-steps-a-day recommendations from across the world for healthy adults!

"Now 21 years on' we've had more than 560'000 people use our programs to increase their physical activity – and this August' we want to see more Queenslanders adapt their routines to step up their steps' for many positive effects on physical' social and mental health."

Queensland Walks Month is an initiative of community advocacy group Queensland Walks' which aims to improve the health of Queenslanders by encouraging walking every day and promoting better walking environments.

"Queenslanders have always appreciated a good walk and the pandemic prompted an enormous increase in walking… it's a free and fun way to stay active with friends and families' and support physical and mental wellbeing'" said Queensland Walks Executive Officer Anna Campbell.

Ms Van Itallie said finding ways to add extra steps into your daily routines helped people achieve "sustainable behaviour change".

"The research shows that people do things out of habit' but for habits to 'stick'' it must be enjoyable' efficient' or satisfying'" she explained.

"Programs such as 10'000 Steps support and motivate people to add more activity to their everyday lives by using step tracking which can make it fun' and highlight that walking to your local destinations can be satisfying - and sometimes more efficient than driving!

"The evidence grows every year' with new research further supporting the program tagline Every step counts- that every minute of movement can deliver you all sorts of health benefits.

Ms Van Itallie stressed that targets should be different for different people' and different health and fitness goals.

"It has been found that 8000 to 10'000 steps for adults younger than 60 is enough to reduce their risk of mortality by 40 to 53 per cent.

"And for people over 60' they can get similar benefits just with 6000 to 8000 thousand steps a day."

"One size doesn't fit all' but we've got to acknowledge that our whole lifestyles are becoming less active' so we need to make a conscious effort to do more' and an extra thousand steps is a good place to start."

As part of Queensland Walks Month' Queenslanders are being challenged to talk about where they are walking' and share their journeys as 'Community Walking Correspondents' on social media and via queenslandwalks.org.au.

Queensland Walks Month is supported by the Queensland Government' 10'000 Steps' Bushwalking Queensland' and the Heart Foundation.

10'000 Steps is delivered by CQUniversity and proudly funded by the Queensland Government through Health and Wellbeing Queensland' and Wellbeing SA' Government of South Australia.