There is no avoiding the fact that regular exercise is the key to maintaining our weight and improving our health. Still, like most average people, we are stumped at where to begin and how to fit a regular workout into our already crammed schedule and our already stretched-too-thin budget.
To lose weight and nurture a healthy lifestyle, one does not have to involve a gym membership, spandex clothing or squeezing equipment into our home. With an inexpensive pedometer and a willingness to change a few habits, anyone can begin the healthy journey into the world of 10,000 steps a day.
Don’t panic, your goal is to increase how much you are moving everyday. You can work your way up to 10,000 steps a day at your own pace.
(Note: If you have a chronic condition or are unsure of your overall health, see your doctor before beginning this or any exercise.)
If you consider the fact that the average person walks between 3,000 to 4,000 steps everyday, 10,000 does not seem quite as intimidating.
Your first step is to purchase a pedometer. You can spend as little as $5 or as much as $250 on a pedometer. You just need something that will count your steps. Take a couple of days to get used to wearing the pedometer. Do not change your regular routine, but do note how many steps you take each day. You will likely find that just having the pedometer right there counting your steps is a motivator. Use the count to keep you heading to the next 100, 500, 1000 steps.
Once you’re accustomed to wearing the pedometer, set a goal to increase the steps you usually take by an additional 2,000 steps.
Research has shown that your risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other chronic diseases goes up significantly the more often you sit. Standing is preferred over sitting but standing for long periods has its drawbacks as well – it can affect your circulation, blood pressure and cause problems with your feet, knees and hips. Walking is the happy medium between sitting and standing.
Did You Know?
- More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine.”
- On average, walking 10,000 steps is estimated to be equivalent to walking 5 miles (or 8 kilometers) and you also get to burn 400 to 500 calories from this simple exercise.
- A study conducted by Harvard Medical School shows that walking as an exercise can help slow down the aging process and prolongs one’s life.
How To Walk 10,000 Steps A Day
If you work from home or you are a stay-at-home parent, you have the most flexibility. You do not have to get up at 5:00 a.m. and walk five miles before your day starts – unless, of course, that would make you happy.
You will get the most from your 10,000 steps if you spread them out over the day. Get in the habit of taking a quick morning and/or after dinner walk. Each mile you walk is about 2000 steps. Start small and work up. When you are first starting out, it can be helpful to break the 10,000 step goal into 3 or 4 small goals to meet throughout the day. You could challenge yourself to get in 3000 steps before 10 am and then another 3000 steps before dinner time.
You can also use the following tips to add more steps per day, like:
- Making and taking phone calls standing up. Pace or march in place when on the phone.
- If you are home with children, don’t be the mom-that-sits. Get up and play, go for walks, dance around your kitchen. (The pedometer will not know you’re not walking if you’re dancing. The movements still count as steps.)
- When you’re out running errands, park far away from the store – those extra steps add up.
- Take your grocery cart back to the store after you have loaded bags into your car.
- Use a timer. Set your timer for 15-30 minutes while you are on the computer. After that, get up and move around for 5-10 minutes.
- While watching television, get up and walk in place during commercials.
- Don’t let the weather interrupt your routine. Walk indoors on a treadmill or go to the nearest mall and do some window shopping.
- Listening to audio books while you walk can help you fight the fatigue and boredom.
If you work at a desk job, get creative as you work up to 10,000 steps each day.
- If you drive to work, park your car at the furthest lot so you will walk the extra steps to the office.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever it’s an option. If you normally wear high heels to work, carry them in a bag and wear sneakers to and from the office.
- Bring your lunch and walk to a local park to eat. Alternatively, find a restaurant that offers healthy food that is within walking distance of your office.
- If your boss is okay with it, make 10,000 steps a day an office challenge. Together you will come up with many ways of moving more around your specific office. Working with a team will be a boost to your motivation as well.
- Conduct interviews and small meetings while walking in a local park or on a set route near your office.
- If you travel frequently, spend your time in the airport window-shopping or walking briskly through the concourse rather than just sitting in the waiting area.
In additional, try one or more of these unconventional ideas:
- Use a standing desk for part of your day. If your job requires you to spend a lot of time at a desk, a standing desk allows you to continue working without wasting your day in a chair. Spend half of your day standing and the other half sitting. You’ll find you add steps to your daily count while working at a standing desk.
- If you are really serious about getting fit, look into the possibility of a treadmill desk. You can get your work done while walking at a slow pace throughout the day. As they become more common, companies are recognizing the health benefits and increased productivity treadmill desks provide to their employees.
Once you are used to moving more, you may find yourself craving even more movement. (Really, you will.)
If you are attempting to burn more calories and lose weight, you can try walking up a slope or hill. The steeper the incline, the more calories you will burn. Alternatively, you can try bumping up the intensity of some of your walking like using the stairs more, walking faster or even adding another 2000 steps per day.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on those walking shoes, start walking and make every step count!