mans-hand-holding-phone-tracking-fitness

Sometimes doing the minimum might sound lazy. In the case of increasing physical activity by walking 10,000 steps in a day, you can do the minimum while getting the maximum amount of benefits and not be lazy at all! In fact, you may even find it to be fun.

The Benefits of Walking 10,000 Steps A Day

Walking is often an exercise that doesn’t get its due attention. Increased physical activity by walking 10,000 steps a day is a healthy way to stay in shape and protect your heart (“The 10,000 steps challenge – build stamina, burn calories, get a healthier heart”).

According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can do all of the following:

two-women-walking-down-path-for-exercise
  • Help lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or help manage stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness.
  • Strengthen bones and muscles.
  • Improve muscle endurance.
  • Increase energy levels.
  • Improve mood, cognition, memory and sleep.
  • Improve balance and coordination.
  • Strengthen immune system.
  • Reduce stress and tension.

(“Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health”)

Benefits of 10,000 steps a day also include:

  • Dedication to improving fitness, by improving movement into your daily habits.
  • You’ll tend to make other healthy choices.
  • Health benefits of walking: amazing cardio improver; don’t have to run.
  • A natural way to engage your body.
  • Helps improve mood.
  • Improve metabolism.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Low impact: Good for joints, bones, and people of all ages.
  • Mitigates negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Exposure to sun, natural daylight (when walking outdoors).

Why Is 10,000 The Magic Number of Steps Per Day?

So why is 10,000 the correct number of steps, opposed to more or less? Where did this idea come from? It came from Professor Yoshiro Hatano (Hatano and Pangrazi).

In the 1960s, the Japanese population was suffering from an incline of obesity (“10,000 Steps: A Brief History”). Hatano became intrigued with finding the best ways to remedy this. Burning calories was an obvious solution to the problem. He figured that the average person walked about 4,000 steps a day. So, 10,000 steps, or five miles, a day would increase calorie burning by 20% (Tigar).

Upon this knowledge, Hatano created a pedometer device, called the “Manpo-kei,” translated to mean the “10,000 steps meter” (MacManus) in Japanese. This meter was meant to help people track their steps. All with the goal of getting to 10,000 steps a day in order to bring down the obesity rate and reduce heart disease.

Though some people disagree on the science behind 10,000 steps (Stillman) in Hatano’s reasoning, 10,000 steps has come to be the standard of physical activity in countries around the world. For years, 10,000 steps a day has been the recognized benchmark of physical activity for the average person since the 60s, starting in Japan.

Advert for the original manpo-kei or ‘10,000-step meter’.

How Do Schedules Impact Fitness?

People with busy schedules often struggle to see how they could incorporate these healthy changes into their day. Even if it’s just walking. Managing the time between work, children, pets, and other social activities might be putting a halt on fitness. Which evidently impacts sleep, stress, and overall quality of life. Walking is one of the best ways to remedy those problems.

If you’re part of the 35% of Americans who work at home five days a week (“Is remote work effective: We finally have the data”), you may be looking for an easier way to be more active. When working from home, it might seem like a chore to walk 10,000 steps a day. Especially if your job requires you to sit down with your laptop all day; which is often the case.

filled-calendar-with-no-time-to-go-to-the-gym

On the other hand, if you’re someone who goes to work in another location, you may still have thoughts such as “There’s no way I could walk 10,000 steps while I’m in an office all day” or “I can’t even find time to go to the gym, how am I supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day?” The good news is, going to a physical office often includes walking to your car, walking up steps, walking around the office, walking to the restroom etc. So if you don’t work from home, you’re already ahead of the curve.

Is it Possible to Walk 10,000 Steps A Day?

The better news is, no matter where you work, or what your schedule looks like, walking 10,000 steps a day can be easily accomplished through goal setting, commitment, and reassuring results. Keep in mind that 10,000 steps doesn’t always ‘literally’ have to equate to 10,000 physical steps. If you are someone who already stays active throughout your day or goes to the gym regularly, you may already be hitting the ‘10,000 steps’ mark.

A huge number like ‘10,000’ might sound a little scary, but the reality is that many people get at least half of this level of activity without realizing it. Even those who don’t go to the gym. Being aware of your steps is the first goal. The best part is it can be enjoyable.

Track Your Steps

If you’re feeling like adding 10,000 steps to your daily routine is something you’d like to accomplish, you might be wondering “what are the next steps?” (pun intended!). You might be one of those people who are close to hitting the mark already, but the best way to actually accomplish your goal is to make sure you have an effective fitness tracker.

Reputable Fitness Trackers

Here are some recommended fitness trackers/wearables for tracking steps:

woman's-hand-holding-phone-tracking-fitness

These trackers work for anyone who is trying to track their steps. Whether you’re an athlete, you just want to be more healthy or active, or you just want to get off the couch. Trackers are a fun way to hit your goals and increase them as time goes on.

How to Set Goals to Reach 10,000 Steps A Day

Keep it simple. If you feel like you can’t hit 10,000 steps in a day, start by trying to get 5,000. Once that goal is hit, move it up to 7,000, and so on. Like any workout routine, tracking steps is a progression that doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be a commitment. The objective here is to set fitness goals and have fun achieving them.

Creative Ways to Achieve 10,000 Steps (Besides Walking)

As mentioned above, you don’t literally have to walk five miles a day to reach your 10,000 steps. There is an abundance of other movements you can do besides walking.

Natural Movements

When you’re at the gym, or at home, try to add in some of these natural movements that don’t require a treadmill or any other gym machine:

  • Step ups
  • Lunges
  • Shuttle runs
  • Crawling exercises: bear crawl, baby crawl
  • Jump rope
man-doing-lunges-in-home-gym
group-of-people-doing-step-ups-workout-at-gym
man-jump-roping-as-a-workout

Fun Ways to Incorporate More Walking In Your Day

When it comes to actually walking, there are also a list of enjoyable activities that can be counted towards 10,000 steps.

How to Increase Step Count

family-of-4-kicking-ball-in-yard-for-exercise

Ways to increase step count while having fun: 

  • Sports; not everyone plays sports, but simple things like playing catch or taking a break to kick a ball around are good alternatives.
  • Hiking; hikes are a great way to be outdoors while also getting a workout in.
  • Walking with people; ask your spouse, children, friends or co-workers to take a walk with you and squeeze in some quality time as well.
man-walking-dog-on-rainy-day-for-exercise
  • Walking your dog; if you have a dog, taking them on a walk after work, or scheduling a time to go every other day is a good way to give your pet some exercise at the same time as you.
  • Walk to store/restaurant/park; if you live close enough to stores/restaurants/parks, on your next visit leave the car at home and take a walk instead.
  • Taking stairs instead of elevators; every building with an elevator most likely has an accessible stairwell that you can take instead. The fun part is that it will help you reach your step goals along the way.
  • Listen to music; music helps people move more. People who listen to music while exercising (Higgins and Jabr) tend to go farther than those who don’t listen to music.
  • Walk around the office; instead of sending emails to your co-workers, walk to their desks to deliver the news in person. Simple changes like this make a big difference when it comes to adding steps.
  • Move instead of waiting; if you’re early to a scheduled event, take a walk to pass the time instead of sitting on your phone.
  • Walk & talk/work meetings; maybe you have a phone meeting for work or a face to face with a friend, instead of going to grab lunch or sitting in the office, go for a walk to talk.
  • Walking around the grocery store; Need to pick something up from the store? Instead of going straight to the correct isle, take a detour and walk through some of the other isles first.
  • Park at a farther distance (Rieck); Choosing a parking spot that’s farther away from the store isn’t only good to get more steps in, but you’ll also have an easier time finding parking!

Additional Tips:

  • It’s always healthy to get outside as much as possible. It not only increases physical activity but also helps supplement your body with vitamin D.
  • Getting in extra steps should not feel overwhelming or stressful. Make approachable, reachable goals; don’t get bogged down in details.
  • You can spread out your movement throughout the day. Doing 10,000 steps doesn’t have to be done all at once. It can be an all day exercise.
woman-walking-after-work-on-phone-on-her-way-to-the-gym

If you’re around Beaverton, Oregon, and want to start increasing your steps with like-minded individuals, join our community at The Quad. We’d be happy to help you meet your goals and maybe even tackle some new ones.

group-of-adults-walking-for-exercise