ST Scroll Back: Is '10,000 steps' as gimmicky as gym sleeping class?

Each time a fitness fad comes along, it is touted as the ultimate way to better health.

WeBarre Hiit circuit-style classes have a barre component, but include equipment such as kettlebells and resistance tubes for a more intense workout.
WeBarre Hiit circuit-style classes have a barre component, but include equipment such as kettlebells and resistance tubes for a more intense workout.PHOTO: ST FILE

Every fitness fad is The One.

Each time one comes along, it is touted as the ultimate way to better health.

For many people at the moment, “10,000 steps a day” is The One.

The bloom may be coming off the rose, since questions like, “Is it a magic number or marketing ruse?” are being asked about it.

An experiment suggested that taking three short brisk walks a day was more beneficial than clocking 10,000 steps. 

Another thing which may make us think twice about the trend is how companies selling fitness trackers rode the bandwagon of its popularity. 

Fitbit, the world’s biggest maker of fitness trackers, started all users with the 10,000 goal. The company included it as a default in their trackers and smart watches. It had also put up blog posts on why people should strive to hit the target.

Before you shake your fist (and tracker to get more steps) at people questioning the 10,000 steps mantra, know that experts agree it’s still a good way to get us moving.

Read on to find out what other fitness fads have been The Ones, and also what others have been The What On Earth Were You Thinking.

Still The One: Short and sweet

This fitness trend hits the sweet spot of busy Singaporeans and people elsewhere as it is short and effective.

High-intensity interval training - or Hiit workouts - have brief periods of speed alternating with recovery periods.

“We now have more than 10 years of data showing Hiit yields pretty much the exact same health and fitness benefits as long-term aerobic exercise, and in some groups or populations, it works better than traditional aerobic exercise.” - Professor of kinesiology at California State University Todd Astorino, who has published more than a dozen study papers on Hiit. In the United States, Hiit is one of the fastest-growing fitness trends, with mainstream gyms increasingly offering the training technique and boutique gyms solely devoted to it.

However, experts warn that Hiit can be dangerous if done excessively or without proper supervision. 

Freelance physical trainer and physiotherapist Tan Xiuting said: “I've seen so many people in the past year who have done high-intensity workouts too frequently or with bad form, resulting in severe injuries in their muscles or joints that can take months to recover from.”

Still The One: Will we be stood up by standing desks?

Sitting at a desk all day is bad for your health, so standing desks have become a popular solution to the sedentary lifestyle of office workers. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

You may want to sit down for this, standing desk fans

Standing at work is just as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes daily and being obese, said a study.

Those who typically stand at work for prolonged periods are more likely to face cardiovascular and other health risk factors, according to a study published in 2018 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.


Number of participants in Ontario, Canada, of the study.


Number of years of the study.


Likelihood of developing heart disease, compared to those who typically sat throughout their shifts.

6.6 per cent

Incidence of heart disease among study respondents who stood a lot at work. 

5.8 per cent

Incidence of heart disease among workers who smoked on a daily basis.

6.9 per cent

Incidence of heart disease among workers who were obese.

The One or a runaway bride? 

Avid runner Vincent Lim on his favourite route in Labrador Park, for a virtual run organised by local start-up 42Race. PHOTO: COURTESY OF VINCENT LIM

Virtual running is a new development in the running community. 

You register for the race online, then complete it using a GPS-tracking running app or device. This means you can run anywhere any time.

Known to have been around globally for more than five years, it took off here in 2016.

After completing your route, submit your results online - which the race organisers verify - then you are sent awards, medals or certificates if you earned them.

However, Mr Aidan Huang, editor-in-chief of online running magazine RunSociety, said that virtual runs suffer from a lack of race-day atmosphere and fun, a lesser sense of achievement for serious or podium runners and a higher chance of forgery and cheating with the results.

The What On Earth Were You Thinking Ones

Anyone up for the utterly weird Prancercise which involves moving like a frisky horse. Gangnam-style?


At least tickle your funny bone by reading the Amazon reviews of the book, Prancercise: The Art Of Physical And Spiritual Excellence.

“Awakened my inner horse! ...I’ve even begun to sleep standing up which has kept me more alert and attentive - ready for action! I’m eating incredible quantities of oats without the guilt that I used to feel and even my hair has a new sheen to it that the ladies are keen on. I smell like leather during the day and like sweet sweet man sweat at night. A caution to the weak - this is a committed workout! On average I’m eating upward of 24lbs of food per day, drinking 12 gallons of water, and must prance daily.” - An excerpt of an Amazon review of the Prancercise book by Mr Nigel Reidon.


If you’re pulling a long face over looking like a horse, how about the wonderful Napercise which involves… just sleeping?

It sounds appealing, until you realise you’re paying just to do what you could have done at home. 

In the gym class, which was on trial in 2017 in Britain, you sleep for 45 minutes and burn calories.

This was done via the studio temperature being dropped to a level that promotes calorie-burning during sleep.

Er, how about sleeping with the air-conditioning switched on at home?

In a gym class in the UK, you sleep for 45 minutes and apparently still burn calories. LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO