Background: Health experts recommend daily step goals of 10,000 steps for adults and 12,000 steps for youths to achieve a healthy active living. This article reports the findings of a Canadian family project to investigate whether the recommended daily step goals are achievable in a real life setting, and suggests ways to increase the daily steps to meet the goal. The family project also provides an example to encourage more Canadians to conduct family projects on healthy living.
Methods: This is a pilot feasibility study. A Canadian family was recruited for the study, with 4 volunteers (father, mother, son and daughter). Each volunteer was asked to wear a pedometer and to record daily steps for three time periods of each day during a 2-month period. Both minimal routine steps, and additional steps from special non-routine activities, were recorded at work, school and home.
Results: The mean number of daily steps from routine minimal daily activities for the family was 6685 steps in a day (16 hr, approx 400 steps/hr). There was thus a mean deficit of 4315 steps per day, or approximately 30,000 steps per week, from the goal (10,000 steps for adults; 12,000 steps for youths). Special activities that were found to effectively increase the steps above the routine level include: walking at brisk pace, grocery shopping, window shopping in a mall, going to an entertainment centre, and attending parties (such as to celebrate the holiday season and birthdays).
Discussion: To increase our daily steps to meet the daily step goal, a new culture is recommended: "get off the chair". By definition, sitting on a chair precludes the opportunity to walk. We encourage people to get off the chair, to go shopping, and to go partying, as a practical and fun way to increase the daily steps. This paper is a call for increased physical activity to meet the daily step goal.