Getting (and staying) active doesn't have to involve hours and hours in the gym, fancy equipment or complicated exercises. It can be as simple as walking. Especially if you find yourself sitting at a desk all day, getting up and moving around is vital to your physical and mental health.
Plus, what you do for the majority of your day is just as important — if not more so — than what you do in the gym. To help keep you committed and motivated to walking more throughout your day, join the LIVESTRONG.com team and our hosts, Cortney Logan and Alexandra Weissner of bRUNch Running, for the Daily Steps Challenge, kicking off March 1, 2020.
Your Goals for This Challenge
- Aim to walk at least 7,500 to 10,000 steps every day.
- Take a 30-minute walk at least 5 times a week.
How Many Steps a Day Do You Need?
You may have heard that you should aim for 10,000 steps a day, but why? There's nothing inherently magical about the number in and of itself; it's more what it represents. Namely, getting out of your seat and walking around.
Originally, though, the number 10,000 came from a Japanese pedometer first marketed in the 1960s, according to UC Davis Integrative Medicine. The devices were called "manpo-kei," which translates to 10,000-step meter.
Since that time, research has suggested plenty of benefits of walking more throughout the day. Staying physically active has been tied to a longer life, according to a June 2019 study in The BMJ. And brisk walking in particular has been linked to increased life expectancy, according to a June 2019 study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
On the other hand, a study from a May 2017 issue of the International Journal of Obesity found a link between more time spent sedentary and larger waist circumferences and increased risk for coronary heart disease.
Don't sweat it too much if you can't reach 10,000 steps each day, though. A May 2019 study from JAMA Internal Medicine reports that the health benefits of walking (avoiding early death, in particular) level off at about 7,500 steps a day.
Even more important than your step count is the quality of your walks. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking) each week. That's why we've made it part of the challenge to do a 30-minute walk at least five times a week.
Read more: 20 Reasons to Go for a Walk Right Now
What Does This Challenge Look Like?
The purpose of this challenge is to get you moving. Every day is about being as active as possible, with a goal of walking more than you currently do, regardless of the exact number of steps you reach by the end of the day.
You can track your steps with a pedometer or fitness tracker or through your smartphone. Then, check out the LIVESTRONG.com Challenge Facebook Group for details on weekly challenges. Here's a sneak peek.
Week 1: Walk Just a Little Bit More
To start things off on the right foot (pun intended), get a baseline for how much you walk a day, and then challenge yourself to walk just a little bit more.
For example, if you're currently walking fewer than 3,000 steps a day, challenge yourself to add 2,000 steps (about a 20-minute walk). You can also split up your walks into 10-minute increments. It's a great way to warm up to the challenge.
Kick off the Daily Steps Challenge with us!
Week 2: Find Creative Ways to Log More Steps
Getting bored doing laps around your home or office? Tired of your same old, same old walking route? During Week 2 of the challenge, we'll provide tips for walking more during the day and ask you to chime in with your own ideas.
Try some of these 35 creative ways to take more steps each day.
Week 3: Get Your Friends and Co-Workers Involved
To celebrate Week 3, invite your friends, family members or co-workers to join you. That might mean taking the kids for a walk around the neighborhood, asking your co-worker to take a lunchtime walk with you or setting up your own challenge with your family.
Here's how your friends make the steps challenge better.
Week 4: Amp Up the Steps Challenge
It's the last week of the challenge, so let's see just how active you can be. Push yourself to set a PR for steps this week. Don't go neglecting your jobs or family — but see how many steps you can take in a single day.
Find inspiration to help you finish the steps challenge strong.
How to Join the Daily Steps Challenge
Step 1: Find a Way to Measure Your Daily Steps
There are a lot of fitness trackers out there that you can either wear on your wrist or clip to your clothes. If you don't want to shell out the money for an expensive wearable, most smartphones will track your daily steps (as long as you carry it with you throughout the day, of course).
Step 2: Join Our Challenge Group
Join the LIVESTRONG.com Challenge Facebook Group. We'll be posting lots of helpful info and tips, answering all your questions and connecting you to other members of the community who are joining you for the challenge.
Step 3: Get Walking and Post Your Progress
Put one foot in front of the other and stay active throughout the month. Then keep the Challenge Facebook Group updated with your daily walking by posting screenshots of your step-counting app or photos of your fitness tracker or what you saw on your daily walk. Maybe you walked through the park at lunch or took a hike over the weekend — we want to see it!
- UC Davis Integrative Medicine: "What About 10,000 Steps a Day?"
- The BMJ: "Physical activity trajectories and mortality: population based cohort study"
- Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "Comparative Relevance of Physical Fitness and Adiposity on Life Expectancy"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Time Spent in Sedentary Posture Is Associated With Waist Circumference and Cardiovascular Risk"
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"