If you've ever used an activity tracker, you know that 10,000 steps is the goal for a day's activity. But consult official sources on physical activity and you'd be hard-pressed to find that number anywhere. That's because it wasn't conceived in a lab -- it was conceived in a boardroom. In 1964, Japanese companies began marketing pedometers to ride the Tokyo Olympics craze. One company named theirs "man-po-kei," or "10,000 steps meter," because 10,000 is considered auspicious in Japanese culture. In reality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day, which equates to roughly 7,000-8,000 steps. Marketing ploys like this permeate society in all sorts of ways, from the stigma of medical conditions like herpes (a pharmaceutical company made it "taboo" in order to sell medicine) to commemorative traditions like engagement rings and Father's Day.
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