Many of us know the golden rule of physical activity is to get at least 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health. Ten thousand steps is equal to about 5 miles of walking, and has now become a number commonly associated with a basic or moderate level of fitness.
According to Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare, “Ten thousand steps may sound like a lot but the good news is that you don’t have to take all these steps at the same time. It is ultimately about introducing physical activity into your very busy and often hectic workday, without having to set aside a special time for exercise.”
Hays suggests these 10 tips for reaching 10,000 steps a day:
- Park farther away at the grocery store, mall or work
- Use your lunch break as an opportunity to get out and walk with a friend or co-worker
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Instead of calling a neighbor or co-worker, walk over and see them
- Carry in groceries one bag at a time
- Take a walk with your spouse, child or friend
- Walk to the store
- Window shop
- Plan a walking meeting
- Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding
“Initially it may be challenging to settle into a new routine, including one involving more daily movement,” says Hays. “To help yourself get to this goal, you can set reminders on your computer, watch or cellphone to prompt you to move for an allotted amount of time. By setting reminders, you won’t forget to build up the day’s steps.”
Hays also recommends using fitness trackers or built-in walking apps available on many smartphones to help achieve your daily step goal. According to several different studies, pedometer users walk at least 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers, and using a pedometer helped increase their overall physical activity levels by 27 percent.
“Walking is the easiest and cheapest form of exercise available, and provides amazing health benefits, including decreased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes; lower BMI; lower blood pressure; increased energy; and improved mood and feeling of well-being,” adds Hays.
“Ten thousand steps is a good number to aim for, but this should not be a number to fixate on,” says Hays. “The main goal, especially for those with sedentary lifestyles, is to do your best to increase your physical activity beyond what you were doing before; small amounts of extra walking can produce powerful long-term improvements in health. And there is no reason to stop at 10,000 steps, if you can do more.”