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Do you really need 10,000 steps a day? (cardiogr.am)
403 points by brandonb on Feb 12, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 171 comments



I got into 10,000 steps craze, thanks in part to my company providing Fitbits. I was not really a health nut, just 3 days a week at gym, lifting and cardio. I had a bit of muscle definition. Gym was just something I did like brushing teeth. I didn't focus my life around it.

Due to incentives and competition among co-workers, I got into Fitbit seriously. While it was fun, but after a few months, not only I lost some definition but also gained weight. I was expecting to lose muscle mass but didn't know that 10000 steps spread out throughout day were not enough activity.

Now I realize Fitbits are great for extremely unhealthy or lazy people. But those of us who been working out without any devices should stay away from any such devices. And not change your workout routines.

It is too late for me, now I cannot workout without a device and some nice charts. I ended up getting a HRM based device. I like the charts it provides but I was happy using mirror to judge how much I needed to workout. And I didn't need any external motivation back then.


Yeah, something that most people don't know is that extrinsic motivation dissolves intrinsic motivation.

see http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/10/how-rewards-can-backfire-an...

This means that fitbit will leave you as either a fitbit addict (if you stick with it), or as someone who's less healthy than you would have been otherwise (if you don't, because now you'll exercise less on your own).


I heard that these studies are, like all social studies, to be taken with a grain of salt. They don't replicate well.


I don't know about that. It should be fairly easy to study (and hence replicate).

1. Find a group of animals (preferably humans, but dogs, rats, pigeons, etc. should also work just fine).

2. Target a specific unnecessary behavior pattern (hobby) that all individual engage in.

3. Measure the baseline rate of that activity.

4. Introduce a reward:

4a. For a randomly selected subset the reward follows imminently the targeted behavior.

4b. For the rest they'll receive the "reward" equally often but at a time independent of the targeted behavior.

5. Drop the reward.

6. Let some time pass.

7. Measure the drop/increase in the behavior from the baseline measure.

---

[edit] format.


[flagged]


I think he's referring to the replication crisis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis


Sorry, my advice is, Google for the whole replication crisis thing. I think I read something about this specific set of studies on slate star codex, so that's a good place to look.

Please pardon that I don't have enough time to look for the sources myself.


No, he's right. I wouldn't have even mentioned Social sciences. Medical studies are just as terrible. We need to question every study. Repeat said studies. Make sure the repeat studies were done right. Then study it again by outsiders.


Yeah, if you're someone who's already spending three days a week at the gym, you probably don't need a Fitbit. Especially in the GP's case where it seems like he may have substituted his gym time with a Fitbit.


The FSF has had this 1987 newspaper article on their web site for a long time:

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/motivation.html

There's also a psychology experiment in which people who were paid to argue for a position reported less belief in it afterward compared to people who argued for it for free (but I don't remember the citation). Apparently all of these things may be described as

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overjustification_effect


Ah damnit, what?!

Due to my intense procrastination, when people say "something that most people don't know" [1] I've usually at least heard of it. But somehow this has completely slipped under my radar. Makes me rethink a lot of how I understand motivation.

[1] (On the Internet, in certain circles, for certain topics.)


I've been reading "Punished By Rewards" (http://www.amazon.com/Punished-Rewards-Trouble-Incentive-Pra...) and it got into a lot of that. Pop behaviorism has really deep roots on the collective American psyche.


The article is very cool. It made me remember that I saw it somewhere, and that's the candle problem TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation I had a good time watching it.


A good warning for some "gamification" engagement strategies


rewards are strongly tied to dopamine release in the brain. suggest watching Ropert Sapolsky's lectures on Human Behavioral Biology [1]. i learned alot from them. i keep rewatching/relistening to his lectures and every time i learn something new.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNnIGh9g6fA


I agree that 10,000 walking steps isn't enough, however, it's a great metric for monitoring throughout the day and realizing (on occasion) you haven't done much for the day and you need to get out and hustle.

Also, on the Fitbit, their analysis of a particular run with regard to your heart rate is very helpful.


10K steps is about 8KM for an average person if you walk 8KM a day it will have a very positive effect on your health unless you are really in shape already.


The problem is that it takes time; for the same amount of time you can have a better "training effect". For less time you can have the same training effect. An hour sauntering around the city takes as much time as an hour biking at your lactate threshold. But your heart works a lot harder for that hour of biking compared to standing around waiting for traffic lights to change.

Both are better than an hour spent replying to comments on HN, though!


I don't excercise at all and usually get 10-12k steps. You should be able to integrate about 10k steps in your day to day life. Stop driving everywhere, walk while on the phone, walk the dog(if you have one).


That's not exactly correct here is a good personal example. About 8-9 months ago I decided to walk to work only (I live in London, which is bike friendly but not that much) the overall "round trip" I take from home to work and back is 7.5KM (4.7 miles on Gmaps).

I split that trip into a shorter path which it use to get from home to work and a slightly longer path all and all it takes me about an hour and 15-20 min (~30-35 min short path, ~45-50 split longer path) depending on the pace to walk through that which means that I walk at about 5.8 KM/H which is a very decent pace for walking in daily cloths not on a treadmill without actually having to jog and even tho I still visit the gym 2-3 times a week this had a very good positive effect on both my mental (I don't get cranky to work, and I can blow off steam on the way home, and I don't have to cramp myself into the tube during rush hour even if it's only 4 stops for myself personally) and physical (better weight management, more energy, can push my self harder at the gym etc.) health.

Now could I say replace this with a higher intensity exercise? well yes and no, for higher intensity exercise it will mean that I need to both have a change of cloths and a place to take a quick shower this logistically complicates it sufficiently enough for me to not be that much of a viable solution.

Can I say use a bike to cover the same distance at more or less the same intensity? well sure however I will have to buy a bike (which isn't that cheap), have a place to store that bike at my work place (and while I might stat my day at the office I might not end it there and vise versa), and most importantly being sufficiently confident in my biking abilities to ride a bike in city traffic (UK drivers are utter cunts to bikes and pedestrians) which I do not have, I've written a bike when I was a kid, I did some cross-country biking when I was older but never had to ride with traffic and I much rather pass on that opportunity because I know it will not end up well for me.

10,000 steps isn't some mandate it's a good baseline for people who are at an average shape or worse and it's a good "quantifier" to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the amount of activity you do e.g. 1.2-1.5 hours of walking, vs 50 min of biking vs 30 min of swimming vs 45 min of running etc.

P.S. Getting your heart rate to higher levels isn't that important, getting it to an elevated but a sustainable level for the duration of the exercise is. Go do some deadlift at the gym your heart rate will spike for those 20-30 seconds but it's really not that healthy either. So unless you are already at a good enough shape to say bring your heart rate safely to say 130 and keep it there for 30-60 min you better off start doing something less intensive until you can bring your resting heart rate down if not the same intensity that will bring a good shape person to 130 will bring you to 160+ and if you are above 30 that might be a bit risky.


Or you could wear the devices and not focus on statistics until after the fact. I dont really pay attention to my stats day to day, but its cool to me to see trends in my exercise and weight.


>I was not really a health nut, just 3 days a week at gym, lifting and cardio.

That qualifies as a health nut compared to 99% of the population!


I find this an interesting viewpoint. For me my exercise tracking is more useful as a metric to establish a good workout routine. Once I have it down then I can track my variations throughout the week and correlate that with work habits (I work from home half the time and half the time go into the office) so that I can make sure to set aside time to achieve those numbers as often as I can.

This and tracking food consumption has helped me lose 50 pounds over the past 7 months, and I can actually look at my graphs and see trends and hopefully I'll see even more as the years progress. I also picked up a Zeo from a recommendation on security now, and that helps me track my sleep patterns, which will hopefully help me figure out the best routines that I can utilize throughout the year to maintain optimal mental and physical happiness :) Sometimes it's not the tool.


I think you are using it right. I used it completely wrong by cutting out more intense exercise and focusing on competing with co-workers instead of myself.


Are you sure the extrinsic motivation was what caused your decreased intrinsic motivation? Exercise motivation slides downward for just about everybody for many reasons or no reason.

And do you mind sharing your age? Lots of people hit a point of metabolic change somewhere between ... 20-40?


No I don't mind, I am 35. I was about 170 lb before I got into Fitbit about 3 years ago. I gained 15 lb chasing 10k steps. It might be metabolic change. But last year I stopped using Fitbit and switched to Polar watch with HRM. I am down to 177 lb now. My RHR has always been around 55bpm, it didn't really change when I cut out gym.

The thing is that I really believed in 10K steps being enough to stay healthy. So I gave up weights & running which I did not do out of joy but as something that you do. If they invent once a month toothpaste, I will switch to it. If I don't have to run and get sweaty, then I am all for it.

10K steps was easy for me. Before Fitbit, I might get 4-5K steps without any effort. After Fitbit I started going on longer dog walks (3-4K steps). Started doing house chores in the most inefficient manners (1-2K). I would walk around office a lot (3-5K). If I was still short at the end of day, I will watch TV while stepping in a place. On weekends, I preferred hiking to swimming.

I can see how extra 5K steps a day didn't require any significant effort for me. So it would have made no difference for me. I can see from this thread that many people struggle with that so it makes sense for them to hit 10K steps goal.


The original article is saying that 5K steps is enough and additional steps are not required to get health benefits. So, it sounds like you were already doing 5K and plus the running/weight lifting. When you replaced running+weights with the additional 5K steps, you did not get any benefits but gave up an important workout. The original article also mentions the importance of 45 minutes of high-intensity exercise. Everything you say matches the results they found.


OK, that doesn't actually sound like metabolic change to me. I think it's just that 3 days a week at gym, lifting and cardio/running burns more calories than the 5K walking steps you substituted for those activities. The default Fitbit goal was not for you...maybe a weekly exercise goal instead, which you can also do on Fitbit.


All of this sounds very unhealthy from a psychic point of view. If you do 5 things of sport every week and not know that you are way above average in what you are doing your vision is somehow blocked. And if you can't get away from charts now it actually really sounds like an addiction. Sport addiction is a thing.

Reading this you will think "what kind of BS is he talking about?" But let's say there is just a 1% chance I'm right. It would be worth talking to a doctor once, wouldn't it?


Thanks for your concern. But I am not sure where you got the idea that I said I was unhealthy. I just assumed that I can skip gym and get all the health benefits of it by taking 10K steps.

But yes as a geek I love data, and I really enjoy charts and numbers. And yes if I go to gym and find out I left my heart rate strap at home, then I might feel discouraged and not workout as hard. Perhaps I will make a habit of working out without HRM once a week.

As I tell my friends, only health device you really need is yourself.


You mean, when you read it you thought to yourself "what kind of BS is he talking about?" right?


I'm not the OP, but I read your post 3 times and I have no idea what you wanted to communicate. Sometimes it happens that you think you are being super clear and nobody else gets it. Please don't take offence.


True, happens.


No, fitbits are probably just legitimately terrible. The value-of-information that they collect seems low, and the motivational distortion can be a gigantic liability. If what you actually care about doesn't involve having and taking care of a body, then no amount of game-playing is going to fix it. And playing games isn't how you focus your attention onto what you want and why you're doing things.


> Now I realize Fitbits are great for extremely unhealthy or lazy people. But those of us who been working out without any devices should stay away from any such devices. And not change your workout routines.

Definitely this. All these "gamification" of everyday activities are pretty gimmicky imo and I'm glad I've always stayed away from these toys


It's worse than this. I believe gamification increases one's dependency on dopamine.

... and I would bet that dopamine addiction makes you extremely unhealthy, because you chase the satisfaction through your day: One more series, one more 9gag/facebook/HN page, one more cookie. Society rewards mental strength a lot: If you are so strong that you can clear your life from unnecessary immediate satisfactions, you'll be filled with time with friends, you'll be more focussed at work, you'll dominate situations, you'll love yourself.

If this interpretation were to be correct, then gamified apps/gamified fitness/rewards on a screen are harming your mental strength, which harms your fitness.


Why were you expecting to lose muscle mass?


Hey all—OP here.

I'm working on developing Cardiogram, the Apple Watch app from which this data is derived, and working with UCSF cardiology doing machine learning on heart rate data.

Feel free to ask any questions here!


I was motivated to download your app based on your article so clearly you did a good job explaining the idea :-) I have to say that the Apple Watch has had a profound impact on my health. For the past 7 years, I work out at a gym almost every morning. However I did not realize that I was excessively sedentary for the rest of the day until I started wearing the watch. I now force myself to move around a lot more and sit less.


Relating to this, does anyone know any good Android apps that record such data?


You can sign up for our (upcoming) Android Wear beta on the homepage: https://cardiogr.am


Google Fit is OK.


> a profound impact on my health

Can you expand on that?


Every winter, I tend to gain some wait - a few pounds usually. This winter, I have forced myself to go out for walks in the afternoon, no matter how cold it is to get my overall activity up to my target. No weight gain at all. I suppose this could have been achieved with other fitness trackers but the Apple Watch has a very nice gentle way of reminding me about reaching my movement goals by tapping me on my wrist.


How come your graphs do not go below a resting heart rate of 70? If you look at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr041.pdf, about half the population should be below that.

The only explanations I can think of are either that Apple Watch owners are a non-representative sample (possibly true. But _that_ non-representative?) or that you do not manage to measure resting heart rate that well (how good is the Apple Watch at measuring heart rate?)


Apple Watch is pretty great at measuring heart rate in my experience. Part of the difference may be the circumstances in which the measurement is taken—in the clinic, "resting heart rate" is typically measured when the patient is sitting, in a controlled setting.

For an app like Cardiogram, your heart rate is being measured throughout your day, "in the wild," every 10 minutes. We do filter out any measurements taken while you were moving (walking, during a workout) and for a few minutes after the movement stops.

But, of course, your heart rate might be higher in real life than it is at the doctor's office. Maybe you've just had coffee. Or you're stressed out driving in traffic. For example, here's mine in bay area traffic: https://twitter.com/bballinger/status/695704441626886145

In Cardiogram itself, we show the user their whole distribution of resting heart rates. What's reported in the blog post is the median of all those measurements.

By the way, I don't think it's known what the "right" answer is here. We do know stress can trigger a heart attack, and coffee can trigger arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation. So perhaps there's a lot of information lurking in the shape of your personal distribution of heart rates. But before now, nobody has really had the data to answer these types of questions.


So you're not actually measuring resting heart rate, just average non-active heartrate. Those sounds like two different things.

My FitBit HR (also using an optical sensor) says my resting HR has varied between about 52 and 59bpm over the past 5 weeks, which passes the sniff test. I tend to be in the high 70s/low 80s when standing and moving about, but when I sit down (to work or relax or whatever), it drops into the low 50s. One that really sticks in my mind was the day I did a free go karting session courtesy of blood donation. Wisely, they had us race first, then donate. I got out of the kart, walked to the waiting area, sat down, and 5 minutes later was called back and given a resting HR of 42.


You hit 140 in traffic? Wow.

Resting HR is tricky - I wouldn't consider myself a gym rat but I do run a few times per week and I ride my bike for fitness so I spend far longer than 1 hr above 150 per week.

My resting HR is low 40's. I might hit 65 in traffic....

Cool stuff though. Eager to try it.


So is there an app available (hopefully yours) that tells me when/what I need to do to hit the "right" numbers each day?


Yes—that's certainly our long-term goal.

This analysis is a first step, but before providing personalized recommendations, I think we'd want to do a lot more validation. There are a lot of corner cases in the real world, and particularly in the wake of what's been happening with Theranos and Zenefits, I think it's on startups to really do things right in healthcare.

In the meantime, if you have an Apple Watch and want the graphs + metrics, feel free to take Cardiogram for a spin: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cardiogram/id1000017994?ls=1...

(Android Wear is coming soon.)


>> More research funding is needed. Just kidding—isn’t that how all of these are supposed to end?

Ha! Really interesting numbers there, and encouraging. It doesn't take all that much work to get your resting heart rate in a good range.


Is there any research around sum of heart beats as an indicator of life/health? I'm trying to understand if the marathoner's low resting BPM is fewer total beats over time in spite of having temporary higher BPM for exercise?

Vs someone who maybe has resting heart rate of 70, but never exercises and thus doesnt have any high period either.


Sum of heartbeats isn't really that indicative. Surely everyone has a finite amount of beats but that's less the point.

A low resting heart rate generally indicates a healthier system. but there are so many additional variables.


Could you recommend some seminal books / articles on timeseries analysis of heart rate data and similar physiological variables?

PS. Have you heard of / tried Beddit?


Great summary of your findings.

I've been wearing a Fitbit Charge HR since last June, and I definitely do not reach 10k steps daily. However, I've noticed that on days I hit the gym and do weight lifting, my caloric burn easily tops 3300, while on days where I'm lazy and just working on my laptop, I barely break 2100.

As a rule, I typically do not do any cardiovascular exercise. I think, I do not know for sure, the Fitbit is better suited for measuring cardiovascular activities, so I'm not sure how or why it's adjusting my caloric burn on my gym days. Maybe it's looking at my heart rate and extrapolating?

Anyway, I'd be very much interested in some kind of fitness tracker that can provide better estimates on caloric burn. That coupled with calorie counting/recording of meals is what will really help me shed this weight.


I've always thought the killer healthcare app would be some sort of way to automatically track calorie and nutritional macro intake without manual data entry. No idea how that would actually work, though.


This startup is trying to do it, at least for liquids, https://www.myvessyl.com/vessyl/


This seems the most ridiculous - internet of shit - thing; when in the video he turns the "Vessyl" and it reads beer ... just look at your can, it's written here. Tracking liquid calories is easy, you drink your soda can and the number of kcal is indicated clearly. You drink water from the tap and ... you consume 0 kcal.


If you are like me and drink a lot of water each day, you will get really really tired of measuring it and keeping track of it. Making it automatic is important - it eliminates the psychological component of trying to beat your numbers. A product like this is not just about tracking calories but also how much you are drinking.


Very few people have any need to closely track their water consumption unless they have a particular condition, though, and this product seems to be marketed to a fitness/lifestyle market, not health care.


Great idea. Perhaps an AI that recognizes what we eat from a cell phone photo and tracks nutrition.

Sounds possible at least for prepackaged and restaurant/fast food.


I doubt it would be feasible:

1) food appearance gets changed a lot when cooked and plated

2) a photo would not be enough to recover the volume of food in metric scale


Good points, but did you miss the discussion nearby? It seems someone already made a plate with cameras with object recognition to identify food and 3 scales to determine the volume.

> http://www.fastcoexist.com/3045810/world-changing-ideas/this...


Yep, missed that!


I'm pretty sure someone has just released something like this. A handheld scanner that will tell you the calories/macros for your plate of food.

It was a one off cost of circa £150, then £15 or so a month ongoing.

Apologies but can't be arsed to find the link on mobile.


Was it this miniature near-infrared spectrometer?

> The SCiO, a handheld "pocket molecular sensor" available now on Kickstarter, gives you the data on your food.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3030342/fund-this/this-tiny-devic...

Also found this plate with 3 scales and cameras that uses object recognition algorithms to identify food:

> This Smart Plate Tells You How Many Calories You're Eating—And Whether You're Eating Too Fast

> The ultimate in portion control: a plate that yells at you.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3045810/world-changing-ideas/this...


> Maybe it's looking at my heart rate and extrapolating?

Yes. At least that's what I hope/assume mine is doing.

> Anyway, I'd be very much interested in some kind of fitness tracker that can provide better estimates on caloric burn.

The 2nd most accurate formula involves weight and heart rate. http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/12435/is-it-possi...

Your Charge HR knows both of those, so I would hope it uses them. That's the whole reason I bought one in the first place.

It looks like measuring VO2max is even more accurate. But that's very annoying and invasive to measure as it involves breathing through a tube.


I do not believe Fitbit uses heart rate to track calories. If it uses heart rate to track calories, it would be able to work well with cycling exercises, but it does not. From fitbit website: "Fitbit trackers are optimized for walking, running, and general lifestyle activities but are not recommended for tracking cycling"[0]. Sounds like it uses the step counter and not heart rate to estimate calorie burn along with your weight and age etc.

The Charge HR heart rate functionality could be useful to keep my heart rate in a specific range during cardio. However, it doesn't seem like it's good for that either[1].

[0]https://help.fitbit.com/articles/en_US/Help_article/Does-the...

[1]http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/01/lawsuit-claims-fi...


When I use it for boxing, the calorie burn graph seems to very closely follow the heart rate graph. But only if the tracker was in exercise mode (longpress the button).

As for the article about inaccuracies. Their manual clearly states that during exercises that involve a lot of forearm flexing and vigorous arm movements the tracker will be inaccurate.

And I am sceptical that people wouldn't be able to tell from how they're feeling that they are at a dangerously high heart rate. But I guess it's possible.

The highest number my fitbit ever reported was about 170 (sprinting) so it's definitely cspable of measuring high heart rates.


I wonder why it's not recommended for cycling then. Cycling is my main exercise. Very little arm movement on a bike.


My old Fuelband used to register quite a bit of activity while cycling, surprisingly. It would register about half as many Nikefuel per hour as running, but still way way way way above, say, walking, let alone being seated.

I haven't cycled much since I got my fitbit charge hr.


Here is an interesting study regarding energy consumption http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(15)0... Tldr days of high level of exercise does not linearly correlate to high level of energy usage. The body can somewhere(brain?) spend less energi to compensate the exercise.


> As a rule, I typically do not do any cardiovascular exercise

Do you mind explaining why? Time constraints? Health issue? Genuinely curious...


In my case (not op) I don't belong to a traditional gym and go rock climbing several times a week. I don't really care to go for a run but I love climbing. Also my knees are in bad shape because I am both tall and heavy which means running/biking/anything where I regularly move my knees hurts. Climbing is nice because most of the time unless I am trying to dyno (jump) to a hold I only use my feet to keep myself against the wall or to statically take my weight while I move my hands.


I guess a better term would be, you are not doing much `aerobic' exercise. High intensity sports like rock climbing or lifting definitely train your cardiovascular system. In a different way than `cardio', of course.


If your goal is to bulk up, then you need to consume more calories than you burn. Cardio burns calories, meaning you need to eat more food to hit that caloric surplus.


Google Fit tracks the repetitive movements of gym exercises as steps. Maybe Fitbit does the same.

Probably they would also track sex as steps. Now I want to see somebody reach 10.000 steps!


I've seen sex get recognized as "Sport" by the Fitbit "auto-detect" feature. Also does count steps.


Wearing your fitbit then seems weird.


I'm pretty sure it looks at heart rate. In the app, you can see a graph of heart rate over time when you log an exercise. I have the surge, not sure how the charge works.

Anyway, you should really get some cardio. That heart is gonna keep you alive man. Treat it well.


I do not know what you do in the gym but the delta between resting and lifting seems way too high for lifting and even a moderate warm up.


100% agree, this is why I doubt the number. I'm moving more, since I'm not in the house, and I'm walking around the city and taking the bus.

No warmups, just straight lifting weights (bench press, deadlifts, squats, plus a few accessory exercises), and stretching.

There is the delayed caloric burn that occurs from weight lifting, but I doubt the Fitbit is accounting for that.


I imagine the popularity of '10,000 steps a day' was mainly driven by how cheap/easy it was to measure steps. Nowadays with smart watches or dedicated fitness trackers it's finally becoming possible to come up with better metrics that can be widely used.


I walk quickly with long strides, so steps always seemed like a bit of a kludge - someone with shorter legs would presumably take more steps to travel the same distance as me, but would that necessarily make them 'healthier' than me?

In high school we had a cardio class and the requirement was 'get your heart rate above xxx BPM' - it would take less effort for out of shape folks to get above the threshold


I'm not sure if this is a semantic difference, but how do you know it would take less 'effort' to get the heart rate up for out of shape people? I think 'less intensive exercise' would be better phrasing.

Heart rate is a pretty good proxy for 'effort'. As you get in better shape, your body is more efficient at all sorts of tasks, including fitness challenges, so to get your heart rate higher, you have to increase the intensity of the activity.


Anecdotally, I experience somewhat higher perceived effort at a given (moderate) heart rate when better trained. For example, my resting and max heart rates have been nearly constant at 36-40 and 170-175 since about 18 (I'm 32 now). During that time, I've been a top-10 NCAA nordic skier, alpinist, and a casual runner (2y in Chicago; 'nuff said).

I try to avoid "junk" time in the 128-142 zone because the intensity is too high for recovery/endurance benefits, but not high enough to target aerobic threshold or VO2max. When in mediocre shape and trying to do a lower intensity workout, I accidentally end up in that range more easily than when in racing shape. Meanwhile, threshold and VO2max intensities are easier to sustain when better trained, though I can hit similar max heart rates either way. I interpret this as the lactic acid versus heart rate curves have different profiles even with similar endpoints.

I've also seen acute short-term effects. For example, I did a 160-mile backcountry race after a competitive nordic ski season. For about a week after the race, I couldn't get my heart rate above 145 (30 beats below my normal max). During that week, I did VO2max-intensity intervals with a well-matched regular training partner and could match a pace that would normally require me to be at 160 while I was at just 140. The pace felt more comfortable than expected (probably "felt like 150"), but there was no headroom to go faster.


Do you have more info on this supposed "junk zone" ? Have to admit that I'm a little suspicious of it.


When training competitively, you want to provide a stimulus to the systems you're improving. Any stimulus will require a recovery period, so ideally you only provide the stimuli that affects the systems you need to improve, to minimize recovery time and maximize improvements.

I'm a powerlifter, so that's the perspective that I take. The systems I care about are peak strength across multi-joint compound movements, so I focus on high weight, low reps. Strongman competitions take strength endurance, they emphasize moderate weight, higher rep exercises.

For endurance athletes, systems include respiratory efficiency, VO2max, glycogen storage, among others. Some of those are best trained at low intensity, high volume. Some of those are best trained for at high intensity, low volume. None of those are best trained for at moderate intensity.

When you've reached the level of adaptation where you need to manage your effort/recovery cycle, it becomes important to avoid training efforts that don't optimize for the systems you wish to improve; there's a real recovery cost for little gain. What jedbrown is saying absolutely makes sense. It's also of lesser benefit to anyone who isn't training competitively.


While these high-intensity sessions are believed to be critical to achieving maximal performances, they cannot be performed optimally if intervening basic endurance sessions are performed at too high an intensity (Bruin et al., 1994). However, high-intensity training sessions appear to be well tolerated when variation in intensity of training is ensured (Lehmann et al., 1991, 1992). Less experienced athletes may tend to train harder than prescribed during low-intensity sessions and not hard enough during prescribed high-intensity sessions (Foster et al., 2001).

-- http://fastforwardtriathlon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/I...

It's oft-discussed in training plans across endurance sports. Here are a few showing up in a quick search.

http://www.cyclesportcoaching.com/articlejunkmiles.html

http://www.marathon-training-schedule.com/heart-rate-trainin...

http://coachlevi.com/training/junk-miles-what-why-avoid/

Of course if you're training for general fitness rather than to optimize performance, then zone 2 training is fine. It burns calories and you feel like you get a workout without the pain and injury potential of higher intensity training.

This is an accessible review article: http://www.fitnessforlife.org/AcuCustom/Sitename/Documents/D...


It's pretty well established in endurance training circles. Train hard or train easy, but that point just below 'hard' just exhausts you without providing training benefit.

On mobile, but Google "junk miles"


> how do you know it would take less 'effort' to get the heart rate up for out of shape people?

It's a staple of sports medicine. Fit people start out with a lower heart rate, and unfit people's heart rate rises much more rapidly with exercise. Get the two to climb a set of stairs - the fit person won't notice it, the unfit person will be slightly out of breath and have a noticeably higher heart rate (in some cases, may now even be able to feel their own pulse).

To reach beats-per-minute X, a fit person starts lower and has a longer ramp-up.


Yes. I think the grandparent comment was disputing `effort', not intensity of exercise.


Right, I'm saying that when you are out of shape it takes more physiological and psychological effort to reach the same level of exercise intensity as a fit person.


Wait - "may now even be able to feel their own pulse"?

I'm reasonably fit, and I spent the day sitting at my desk. HR right now is 53. I can feel that just fine. Am I broken? ;)


As in, can feel it all over their body as a kind of pulsing, without having to measure it with two fingers against the wrist (for instance). Most people can't normally feel their pulse without measuring it.


-- it would take less effort for out of shape folks to get above the threshold

True, but it would also take less effort for them to see improvements at that level of fitness as well. You had to work harder, because your body already handled the easy stuff and wouldn't be challenged.


"Steps" is a coarse metric, it just happens to be rather easy to measure compared to other biometrics.

Side note, most counters estimate your step length based on your height, weight, age, gender, and also allow you to program your step length manually if you like.


They may estimate your step length, but they don't adjust your daily goal based on that step length.


Mine, at least, dynamically adjusts my daily goal based on what I usually hit, plus a "stretch" factor to give you something to strive for. Like, "You hit 7,000 steps every day last week, let's see if you can hit 7,500"


Your daily goal doesn't have to be steps. You can switch it to distance, calories, or (if your tracker supports it) floors climbed.


With Fitbit, you can define your step length. This makes for more accurate data analysis.


I and my wife both have 50-53 bpm at rest, mine certain periods were 48 and doctor demanded to do an echocardiogram even after I explained I do a lot of sport. Everything was fine. Btw TLDR, we got those bpms doing crossfit 3/4 times-week (4/5 my wife), we rarely walk at all. I switched to crossfit recently (a few months), before I did powerlifting + cardio for years which provides very similar results from the POV of heart rate, AFAIK. Btw I think my level of cardio fitness is improving with CrossFit compared to PL.


Be careful with crossfit, most of the instructors have no idea what they are doing and can have you doing routines bad for your back. I personally know two people that ended up with back problems from crossfit (each at a different gym).


I agree, however if you hit crossfit after 5 years of power lifting, you are much safe and know what box to avoid. In my current box the injuries rate is near zero because the two instructors are crazy about form. Still crossfit is itself partially risky like many other sports, so also self-regulation is needed, and a bit of luck.


It is to be expected that your cardio would improve more under CrossFit than under powerlifting.


Totally, but I was at least mixing PL + cardio sessions of HIIT. However it is not at the same intensity of doing mid-weights lifts for 20/30 minutes interleaved with body weight stuff and so forth without pauses.


My resting has been 36-40 since age 15. Scared the hell out of me once when I was in an ER for trauma and they say "we have to fix your heart first". It's common for athletes to have a resting heart rate below 40, though I'm not aware of any relationship between performance (e.g., VO2max) and resting heart rate. I.e., 35 is no better or worse than 50.


It seems elite cyclists resting heart rate can by < 30.

For e.g. "The cyclist Miguel Indurain was reported to have a resting heart rate of just 28 beats per minute." (Src: Google search for: elite cyclist resting heart rate)


I have similar high 40's bpm and had a similar experience with my doctor sending me for all manner of tests. All okay. He claimed, and the article seems to back him up, that unless I was a marathoner (I'm not) my heart rate should not be that low. I do high intensity (for me) exercise 3-4 times a week at about an hour a crack. There may be congenital component as both my brothers have low resting pulse and neither is as active as I.

I use the FitBit Charge HR after moving over from the version 1 Microsoft Band which had corroded under the onslaught of my profuse sweating after 10 months use. I found the Charge HR MUCH more accurate than the Microsoft Band for heart rate. Neither as accurate as the Azumio Heart Rate android app, but the Charge HR good enough for my own workout tracking.


If you train 3-4 times a week at high intensities, plus some genetic factors, it is looks entirely possible you have such a low rate. Your earth develops hypertrophy and is able to contract very well to push the blood around, so don't have to do it too many times per minute.


Exactly. I was at a different doctor's and being given an exam by the nurse. I brought this up and he pointed out that since I was perfusing just fine as shown by the oxygen sensor on my finger, ipso facto I had no coronary issues.


My RHR averages between 52 to 55 bpm. I always heard that unless you are an elite athlete, your HR should not be below 60 bpm. So I brought it up with my doctor and he told me to not worry about it. I wonder if there are other markers which would indicate if further testing is needed or not.


My RHR is around 40. When my GP discovered it he ran a few tests (ECG and echocardiogram) that were all clear and then sent me to a cardiac electrophysiologist. He basically said that as long as I wasn't experiencing any of the symptoms of sinus bradycardia (fainting, dizziness, fatigue, etc) then this is just a normal heart rate for my body and I didn't have anything to worry about.


Don't have to be elite by any means. I run around 20 miles per week at a 8 min mile pace and my resting heart rate is in the 50s. Nothing amazing or near what I did training wise compared to when I ran cross county.

If I stop working out, it goes back up to the 60s after a prolong lapse of running (month or two).


I'm at 50 and I'm no where close to an elite athlete, just someone who likes to run. I wouldnt think much of it unless you do very little activity.


Hm, what about the other goals of walking 10k steps? I started walking to lose weight and found, thanks to all these smart devices, that when I walk more than 15k steps I actually drop in weight. Since I'm on the very unhealthy part of the scale it really helps a lot to improve my health.

What I found is that the motivational gain from having data is quite low though. For a month maybe it was good motivation, but if you don't have someone to specifically compete against then you just stop caring.


I dont buy the intense workouts as better alternative to more "slow burn" workouts. I'm a runner and I used to do fast 5k runs 3-4 times a week. I would feel very tired at the end of each run, just depleted. Didnt wanna do anything else but just relax. Had headaches too and most likely due to burning carbs at fast rate (intense workout, high heart rate) and basically depleting my carb reserves, which i think are about 2500 calories in a person. Then I stumbled upon a book, i think here on HN, called Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman [1]. It changed the way i look at the cardio exercise dramatically ! You wanna be healthy - burn fat (slow pace, long time, low HR). You wanna be fit - burn carbs (fast pace, short runs, high HR). These are very different goals as you can imagine ! So which one do you want really ?

[1] http://www.amazon.ca/Slow-Burn-Stu-Mittleman/dp/0062736744

Edit: Just wanted to add, now I run 10k easily, feel great after each run and dont have any headaches and I think, though i dont really care, i loose weight too. Just keeping the HR under control during the run, thats all you need.


Can one be fit and healthy?


the book is by ultra-marathon runner, so yes you can be, but if you are just "casual" runner, you probably wanna be healthy first. the point is you need to teach your body to burn fat and intensify the training slowly by getting "fitter", meaning you will run faster in the same HR zone as before - the zone that is indicator of your body burning fat.


Exactly. No one should pick between slow burn and fast burn. It's much better to incorporate both into your exercise at different times of the week , to address different areas of fitness and to train both slow and fast twitch muscles.


This simply looked at resting heart rate. Sure, you could do better then 10k step a day to improve that, but this does not mean there are no other benefits to 10k steps. As the article points out, there's no study of it.

For me personally, I find walking is fun, and simple to integrate in my routine. It burns an extra 300 cal a day, and forces me to spread my activity throughout the day. That last one is important, because there is a growing number of evidence that inactivity is very bad for you, and that exercise is not enough to counter the effect. What you need is to decrease your periods of inactivity. Finally, walking is very safe and easy on your body.

That's not to say any other alternate type of activity wouldn't be just as good, or better. When it comes to exercise though, anything is better then nothing, so if 10k works for you, keep at it.


After I got my iPhone 6 and started monitoring my steps using its pedometer, I started walking 10,000 steps every single day. After a few months, I noticed that my body was quite a bit more toned and muscular. Great benefit to the steps!


Well that's good to know. I literally can't get to 10,000 steps during a normal day unless I make it a goal during my lunch break to run down to the gym and walk around 4 miles on the treadmill. Since my walking speed is 3.2/3.5 mph, this can't be done leisurely. My only hope for getting to 10,000 is that I'll do the 3.5 or so at the gym and then hopefully be required to run to the grocery store later in the evening so that I can be forced to walk more.

The fitness tracker is supposed to be a motivator, but instead when I see that I'm only at 7-8k per day even after an hour-long walk, it feels more like a fat shamer.


At the risk of posting in a topic that I have a professional interest in --

this is the entire point. You aren't getting enough activity in your day. Now, personally I think the emphasis on steps is a little overblown -- and no the "right" metric is not necessarily heart rate. Instead people need to be thinking in terms of a balanced budget of activity, calorie intake, and nutrition. You won't get a good outcome unless you're balancing all of those. What you find when you really try hard to do this is that the baseline activity level for most sedentary workers is incompatible with any kind of "normal" American diet while still getting adequate nutrition. Increasing the activity level is part of the puzzle, but you need to be thinking holistically for it to actually work well.


   I literally can't get to 10,000 steps during a normal day unless..
Isn't this pretty literally the problem that such approaches are trying to address? I mean, if you believe that a fundamental health issue for yourself is due to a sedentary lifestyle then a tracker like this is hoping to help you change that lifestyle, not just change your lunch break (although that can be a good baby step on the way).


I have a typical in front of the screen job, just walking to and from work and from meeting to meeting. I found that 10000 steps were not much of a problem for a typical work day, if I consequently walked. No elevator, no bus.

10000 steps should be about 4 to 5 miles or 6 to 8 km. I always thought this is realistic for a typical work day, but your comment made me thinking that maybe my tracker is just off. I should compare it to a GPS log one day.


Most people don't walk to work. I live eight miles away from the office, so that's not really an option for me.


Conveniently buses tend to stop at multiple places - not just your home and your office.

So, assuming your interest is in walking more (but not necessarily 16 miles a day) you could perhaps walk a little way, and catch the bus from a different stop. And/or perhaps get off the bus a few stops before your office and walk the last bit. You can adjust to taste depending on how you're feeling, how late / early you're running, whether it's raining, and so on.


Then take the bike ... walking is not the only way to exercise.


Well shame and motivation are pretty much antipodal, the sheer amount of shame should motivate you.


Everything about modern fitness is fascinating. We have access to more data about health and exercise than ever before, all kinds of personalized fitness trackers, calorie counters, meal planners, personal trainers, exercise routines and equipment. Yet somehow our society still seems to be getting fatter and more out of shape every year.

What is going on!?


A big reason why is that information is not enough. There are multiple 100B+ industries that are dedicated to driving sedentary and calorie-increasing activities (TV, gaming, fast food, soda, beer). There is far less effort devoted to getting people to exert more physical effort.

Think about how the only real way most white collar workers exert ourselves is through "exercising". Aka moving around for the express purpose of burning calories.


Sugar, corn, carbohydrates and bad science from folks like Ancel Keys (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancel_Keys).

Look at something like a fruit juice from Odwalla, it says 'Super Food' on the label so it must be healthy right? Compare how much sugar is in a 16oz 'superfood' fruit juice (http://www.odwalla.com/products/smoothies/original-superfood - 49 grams) vs. a 16oz Coca-Cola (http://www.coca-colaproductfacts.com/en/coca-cola-products/c... - 52 grams). We're drinking the same amount of crap but with a prettier feel good label.


The people who are affluent enough to buy all those gizmos and apps and educated enough/have enough leisure time to care are generally already the healthier ones.


We got fatter and out of shape over the course of the last 30-40 years. All these tools and trackers and planners are only from very recently (less than 5 years?). And I understand the getting heavier curve has indeed leveled off in the last few years, we are no longer getting fatter.


We also have higher energy food products. And an obsession with speed and productivity


Food releases dopamine, an app doesn't.


I think this is more or less common knowledge that the higher the intensity of exercise the less time or "steps" in this case is needed to achieve the same goal.

There is a curve ball however that needs to be taken into the account - the question is what exactly your goal is? For example, a sprinter and a long distance runner might be averaging the same BPM rate over the course of the week both resting and during their workouts, the end result is quite different however.

I myself have always been a proponent of high intensity training for everything - short and intense weight lifting workouts, sprinting etc. This changed when at one point in my athletic "career" I switched to boxing at a relatively young age (under 20 y.o.) and my shins/calves started getting sore to the point where it was difficult to walk.

The way to condition those for relatively low-intensity but long (2+ hour) workouts? Even longer and lower intensity workouts basically just walking around or light jogging for hours.


We should not dismiss products as Fitbits as being ineffective just because maybe 10k steps is not a valid metric. A little competition and settings of goals is good for everyone.


I agree.

As someone currently losing weight, my fitbit is pretty invaluable to me. I track every single thing I eat and drink. My fitbit then automatically tracks my walking/ running, and subtracts those calories I burn from the food tracker.


Even an inaccurate Google Fit notification about how much I've walked made me feel better and willing to do more and more regularly.


The measuring stick in this article seems to solely concerning the resting heart rate. Yes, this is because that is the origin for the 10k/day measure; but, surely there are other benefits regardless of what intensity a workout you have.


It's probably because that's the only data they have that can serve as a proxy for fitness.


Yep—resting heart rate is a good proxy, and readily measurable from Apple Watch.

A definitive study would randomly assign people to an exercise routine, follow them for 20-30 years, and then measure hard outcomes like heart attacks, strokes, and all-cause mortality.

Since that's pretty challenging, all of the studies on exercise (and nutrition, for that matter) make two types of approximation:

1. analyze correlations in data rather than randomize, and/or

2. analyze proxy metrics like resting heart rate or blood pressure rather than hard endpoints.

That's part of what makes research on health so complex!


Now I'm impressed with the data generated from iWatch. I thought it would be used just in complex studies, but we can get important insights for everyday life.

I really want to buy an activity tracker now.


Do you need to do 10K steps per day?

I don't think your average person is capable, let alone able to set aside the time. Tools that confirm the minimum physical PT requirement in my view, is good. It will individualise the minimum requirement.

I do above and below, 10km/day, 6 days per week, year in, year out. [0] This puts me hard case territory. Does everyone need this? Probably not. I move upwards of 1600km to 2000km per year. If you move a minimum of 5km/hr that is 2 hours per day. Time commitment required. I choose to move across broken ground and carry weight, a minimum of 1kg and irregular max of 20Kg, averaging around 8kg. The physical commitment to do this is high.

What do I find.

10km/day is hard. In the cold it is better. You have to take precautions in the heat. You don't have to count calories as much. You get sore feet and muscles. Do you need it? I doubt it. For me I can probably meet your requirements with a 5km/day with some resistance gym work.

Interesting psychological observations: The most likely time for failure to get out the door is the short time before you start. If you say to yourself, "f*&$-it, just go" you are more likely start and complete. I've tried this for a decade and the resistance to start is pretty constant but one you get out the door, this disappears.

Do the hardest thing first ~ http://seldomlogical.com/hard.html

[0] currently at 5km/day with weights and gym till I crack 200km.


Been using fitbit for over 2 years now (~ 7.5Million steps logged). Have the data being pushed to other web apps (MyFitnessPal, FitStudio, Higi, Acheivemint, Walgreens balance rewards). Also, trained up and ran 2 half-marathons in this time. Lost 60lbs so far, first 20lbs was from increased walking and diligent choices via calorie logging in MyFitnessPal. Fitbit is not the be all end all, but it definitely keeps me aware.


The article calls it the "manpo-kei", but the Japanese sign clearly says "manpo mētā" (Manpo-Meter) with "meter" in katakana.


450M data points is cool, but without knowing how many people that represents, it's hard to say how meaningful this is.


OP answered my tweet and said that it's thousands of people, which is definitely significant.


10 000 steps roughly equal to 7-7,5 km walked.

To stop the shrinking of important parts of brain you need about 5 km/day average in a week (you can do 35 km in Sunday, for example). BTW, 5 km/h is close to typical walking speed, not fast and not slow either.

So yes, you do not need 10K steps a day. Slightly above 7000 steps per day would suffice.


The only statistics I care about are the number of exercise reps I do each day and how many hours a week I spend dancing to loud music.Not only do I not want to get hung up on analytics, I see absolutely no reason to share that data with anyone else so they can work out better ways to advertise to me.


Humans walk very efficient. If you want to burn fat or get your heart rate up, a 20 second sprint is equal to two hours of walking.

If you want to increase the capacity of your cardiovascular system, to get a lower resting pulse, the best method is to engage in an activity that gives you around 70% of your max heart rate, for about 45 minutes or more. Examples of such activities (for normal people) is gym training, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, etc. At least twice a week.

Max pulse is around 220 minus age. So if you are 35, you want to average (220-35)*0.7=130, witch will feel easy.


Who thought it was a good idea to use bigger bubbles for larger groups of people? Those values should have the least spread, drawing them bigger for no purpose is just confusing. Simple error bars would have been a lot better.


Is resting heart rate a good indicator either? Mine is typically 55-58bpm but I do no organized exercise and am sitting for much of the day (I do try to walk quick and run up stairs to make up for it, so while I'm not "fit", I don't feel unfit per se).

I am free from cardiac related symptoms, so does this mean I am "naturally" fit without really trying? (A bit like people who don't focus on their diet but are slim.) Or, as I suspect, is resting heart rate not a very useful indicator of fitness at all?


> so does this mean I am "naturally" fit without really trying?

Doesn't mean anything. Could even be the case that you have an existing heart condition which causes brachycardia – this is why many doctors will ask for exams if a patient has a heart rate that low. Or could mean that your heart muscle is stronger than what would be expected with your lifestyle. Only a specialized doctor would know.


Whaddya know. The bogus idea of chewing food 30 times (at least) also originated (or rather was popularized) in Japan.

This sort of falls into the same bucket.

This was originated by American diet reformer Horace Fletcher in the early 1900's.

See here, e.g.:

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/10/31/Japan-govt-Chew-fo...


Interesting data but, does lowering my resting heart rate mean I will live longer? Will it decrease the chance of having a heart attack?


based in the article and the linked research, yes!


Without adjusting for BMIs it doesn't tell us that much about causality. If you could get that data that would be huge.


I just recently read that BMI is turning out to be a not so great measure of things now.

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/naam/abs/ijo201617a.h...

" Using BMI categories as the main indicator of health, an estimated 74 936 678 US adults are misclassified as cardiometabolically unhealthy or cardiometabolically healthy. "


Do people read the Wall Street Journal simply publish the same story 3 weeks later?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/stop-counting-10-000-steps-check...


I thought their metric ("physical activity index") sounded interesting, but at least from the WSJ article, it seems to be a bit of a black box. I'd love to see Mio publish some analysis.


I regularly work out, about 3-4 times a week. I do this to stay in shape and have an healthy lifestyle. Although devices and charts can aid me in getting even better, I do not use any. I simply listen carefully to my body and adapt.


The scale of a lot of this data is from 74-77 bpm resting heart rate. I feel like there is only a small correlation and its a small distance improvement from "couch potato" to "high intensity"


Having gone through a heart failure, I can attest that walking is godsend. Even of moderate effort, as long as it's more than 30 minutes. Small hills are bonuses.

-- sent from my dead-oriented design desktop wheelchair.


A calorie is not a calorie.

Leptin signal blocking counts for something...


To a first approximation, a calorie is a calorie.

The mechanisms that make this not strictly true (and there are many) aren't really worth your time and focus when thinking about diet and exercise, unless you're trying to fool yourself into not doing something difficult.


> To a first approximation, a calorie is a calorie.

Nope. A calorie is a thousand calories. It's a silly, ambiguous measure. Kilojoules is unambiguous and should be used instead.


That's a bit of pedantry that adds nothing. Sure, it's not a great unit but it is the one that is used.

The post I was replying to wasn't about confusion in units. If it helps you, read it as kCalories, but the distinction is not important here.


if i bike everyday my resting hr is 42bpm

if i dont for a month its 47

walking is just one way, bike or swim is better though..

(and yes ive a rather low hr genetically regardless)


Yes, we need 10000 steps every day. Its very good to lead a healthy life..




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