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Which Came First, the Pedometer or the 10,000 Steps Program?

Like sushi, Sumo, and Hello Kitty, the idea of walking 10,000 steps per day is "made in Japan." It originated with Japanese researchers, most notably a Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, who wanted to determine the calorie burn resulting from brisk walking. He then wanted to take that research and try to stem the rising tide of obesity in his country.
Dr. Hatano's research determined the average person took 3,500 to 5,000 steps per day, and that increasing that count to 10,000 steps per day would result in better health and lower weight. Combine sophisticated research with the penchant for Japanese technology, and the pedometer is born.
Pedometer use quickly swept Japan, with millions of citizens strapping on a "Manpo-kei" (10,000 steps meter). The trend also caught on in the USA, where we have our own problems with obesity in adults and-alarmingly-in children as well.
However, Dr. Hatano is not the original inventor of the pedometer. Based on Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, it is generally believed he created the earliest versions of a device to count steps.
Thomas Jefferson was also involved, hundreds of years after da Vinci, as he brought a step counter back from his sojourns in France. Jefferson was a staunch advocate of regular walking for mental and physical health.
Jefferson penned a well-known epistle to his nephew, Peter Carr, where he advised him on what he needed to do to become a productive member of society. There were a number of subjects Jefferson wanted him to study, but he

also wanted him to walk regularly. He said:
The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
He also said Carr should carry a gun with him, but no books. I'm thinking that practice would be frowned upon today, however.
The great thing about walking is that anyone can do it, and you can do it anyplace at just about any time. There are exceptions of course to the above statement, but it is the absolute simplest form of exercise.
You don't need any special clothing (although comfortable shoes are nice) or special equipment (although a pedometer is recommended). You can do it alone or with a group. You can do it with your family, your friends, or your pets.
Do you need a formal "program"? Not necessarily, but it can help. Some programs will walk you through establishing a baseline, setting goals, and working to meet those goals. A good program can help you stay on track until you meet your health and fitness goals.
So it's not important whether the pedometer or the 10,000 steps program came first. The important thing is to get out and move!
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