Dr. Yusuf Mosuro explains why understanding how much exercise is really necessary can be beneficial. Relying on the popular 10,000 steps a day may be an easy thing to remember, but tailoring these recommendations to your specific situation is important.

Walking 10,000 steps a day typically results in 5 miles, which burns on average an additional 2,000 to 3,500 calories each week. But since this 10,000 amount was established in Japan in the mid-1960s, it’s not as reliable as we may like.

One thing to keep in mind when discovering how many steps you actually need to take is to look at your food consumption. In 1964, Japanese were eating about 2,632 calories daily, while in 2011 Americans were eating 3,639 calories daily. So Americans would probably need to double the amount of steps daily to come out even.

The best way to look at a step goal, is to encourage everyone to increase their steps in a reasonable way. For example, if you are only taking 2,500 steps a day, challenge yourself to hit 4,000 or 5,000 for a few weeks. Then increase again to 6,000 or even 8,000. The 10,000 step goal is not meant to discourage or intimidate, it’s meant to be an average.

It’s also not enough just to take 10,000 steps a day. Diet and other exercise plays into health. You can’t walk 10,000 steps a day while eating junk food and expect to see a difference. Bottom line, move around more. Walk farther than you did yesterday. Get up and walk around every hour. Park the car farther from the front door. Take the stairs. The important thing is to get moving and get healthier.

Dr. Yusuf Mosuro encourages a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise plan for everyone. Focus on increasing your movement each day and drinking enough water. Healthy foods and moderate exercise go a long way when paired together.