A team from the University of Alberta in Canada compared a 10,000-step exercise regimen to a regimen comprised of exercises with a higher intensity and found that improvements in fitness levels were much higher with the moderate exercise group than with the 10,000-step walking group.
In the experiment, sedentary people were grouped into two exercise regimens that both contained 10,000-step programs. The first program contained a 10,000 step program where participants completed the program at their own pace. The second group faced a tougher routine with a shorter time period. Both measured exercise periods lasted for six months, and both groups burned the same amount of energy during that period.
The team surmised that gentle exercise -- like walking, even for long distances -- was not rigorous enough exercise to get a person fit. Lead researcher, Dr. Vicki Harber, said, "Generally, low-intensity activity such as walking alone is not likely to give anybody marked health benefits compared to (exercise) programs that occasionally elevate the intensity."
With the old debate about quantity versus quality, Dr. Harber's team was concerned that the actual type and length of exercise period was less important than intensity of exercise. Indeed, recent research has shown that short bursts of intense exercise is good for human health and produces marked benefits, while low-intensity exercise like walking doesn't provide the health benefits previously thought.
Said Dr. Harber of the results, "Our concern is that people might think what matters most is the total number of daily steps accumulated, and not pay much attention to the pace or effort invested in taking those steps."