We all know that exercise is important for us. Walking, something most of us can do, makes us healthier, happier, and some even claim walking makes us smarter. Unsurprisingly, we all believe that more is better.

We’ve all heard the claim that we should walk at least 10,000 steps a day.  But there’s nothing special about the 10,000 steps number. Like many other claims, it is not based on science and was started as part of a marketing campaign to sell us something. Unfortunately, like many other health claims, it became widely accepted as fact and is now part of the conversation. So the 10,000 steps deception continues to be used to sell apps, smartphones, etc.

Setting a target of 10,000 steps and having difficulty reaching that number can have a negative effect and demotivate people to exercise at all. Why bother if you can’t reach it, right? One study showed that benefits plateaued after 7,500 steps a day.

Instead we should all do what we can to stay healthy. Our bodies were made for moving. Not for sitting all day. And over time, with patience and perseverance, the more we do, the more we will be able to do.

Training to run a marathon (42.2 km or 26.2 miles) takes months of training, slowly increasing weekly mileage over time. I’ve trained and ran several marathons. It’s not easy getting out the door sometimes. And it takes time before you are properly ready to run that distance.

The same goes for improving our health by walking. Start with what you can. Get out the door. Go for a walk around the block. Then do it again the next day. The more you do, the more you will be able to do over time.

If it’s not enjoyable, we are less likely to keep it up. So change routes. Take the dog. Change the time of the day. Listen to a podcast. Invite friends to join you. Take a hike in the woods. Listen to the birds. Stop and talk to your neighbours. Whatever you do, have fun with it. It’s not a race.

Read this BBC article to find out more.