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With more devices able to chide us for failing to reach daily fitness goals, is taking 10,000 steps a day necessary or excessive? We explore why many of us suffer step count stress.

It’s 3pm. A mountain of files stare at you as you simultaneously curse yourself for eating lunch at the desk and contemplate another afternoon coffee. Before you can Google “Is cold brew better for sleep than a long black?”, your Apple Watch vibrates impatiently.

“Move!” it cajoles you, its pink ring pointedly unclosed. Another day looms with unclosed rings and a reminder from your iPhone that your step count is decidedly below average, or you have not done the required one minute of standing during 12 different hours of the day. 

Fitbits, wearable devices, trackers and watches can be dismissed as well-meaning marketing ploys, but in truth such electronic encouragement is much closer to the foundation of the 10,000 steps a day requirement. 

As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaches, it is apt to revisit where the basis for taking 10,000 steps a day began – in the aftermath of the success of 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when Japanese marketers behind the first wearable step counting device dubbed it the manpo-kei, which translates as “10,000 step-meter”.

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