Welcome to the first week of the Daily Steps Challenge! You've made the commitment to get and stay active by making tiny adjustments to your activity level, and we're so happy to have you join the LIVESTRONG.com team and our hosts, Cortney Logan and Alexandra Weissner of bRUNch Running.
"Walking is not only a great low-impact way to exercise, it can also be an amazing way to experience the world around you," Logan says. And walking has a much lower rate of injury than higher-intensity or higher-impact forms of exercise like running or team sports.
Depending on your current lifestyle and fitness level, walking 7,500 to 10,000 steps a day can either seem like an unreachable goal or like something you accomplish before lunch every day. Regardless of the category you fall into, you can benefit from this challenge.
How to Get the Most From the Daily Steps Challenge
Nearly everyone can reap the physical and mental health benefits of walking, which include improved mood, better cardiovascular health and stronger, healthier knees. Even though it boils down to putting one foot in front of the other, a little forethought and strategy go a long way.
Below, Weissner and Logan share some of their tips for kicking off the Daily Steps Challenge on the right foot.
1. Start Wherever You Are
For those who are currently sedentary, focus on walking a little more each day. Even adding 2,000 steps to your daily total can boost your health, according to a May 2019 study from JAMA Internal Medicine. And aim for at least three 20-minute walks each week, Weissner recommends.
"As you continue to walk more frequently, you'll build more stamina and endurance, and you may even find you're enjoying yourself so much that you'll want to add additional time to each walk — and maybe even add extra walks to your week," she says.
If you're already walking all day, every day, maintain those efforts and add something new (like a new route, hills or speed intervals) to keep yourself challenged and engaged.
2. Log a Baseline
If you already use a pedometer or other kind of fitness tracker, check how many steps you're currently taking on an average day. If you're not using a pedometer, use the first day of the challenge to get an idea of how much you're walking without really pushing yourself.
Save that number (for most Americans, it's between 3,000 and 4,000 steps, according to the Mayo Clinic) for the end of the challenge to track your progress. Consider this a kind of "before" photo and a good way to measure your progress.
3. Find a Tracker You'll Actually Use
A lot of people invest in a trendy, top-of-the-line fitness tracker only to throw it in a drawer after wearing it for a few months. Depending on who you ask, between 29 and 42 percent of people ultimately stop using their wearables.
If you're going to commit to the challenge, make sure you keep your tracker or phone charged and with you at all times.
Don't have one yet? We've compiled a list of expert-recommend step trackers and pedometers to take the guesswork out of your purchase. Or if you have a smartphone, a free app on iOS or Android means you don't have to purchase anything!
4. Make Sure You're on Target Throughout the Day
Take a look at the number of steps you've logged periodically. Only at 2,000 steps by lunch? Get moving! A lot of wearable devices will let you set reminders to get up and move if you're sitting still for 20, 30 or 60 minutes.
If you're using your phone, set an alarm or tell yourself that every hour at the top of the hour you will walk around the block or the floor of your office building.
5. Set Smaller Goals for Yourself
No matter your baseline number, think about where you want to be at the end of this challenge. Do you want to finally hit 10,000, or do you want to be able to climb up the stairs without getting winded? Maybe you're also training for a race? Break down that bigger goal into more manageable weekly milestones.
Whether it's, "I will walk for 15 to 20 minutes without stopping" or, "I will walk for one mile," pick a goal and focus on hitting it, Logan says. Then each week, push yourself to walk a little bit more (either in number of steps or the duration of each walk).
Read more: 6 Ways to Burn More Calories Walking
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!
- International Journal of Epidemiology: "Risk of injury according to participation in specific physical activities: a 6-year follow-up of 14 356 participants of the SUN cohort"
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women"
- MayoClinic.com: "10,000 Steps a Day: Too Low? Too High?"
- Gartner: "Gartner Survey Shows Wearable Devices Need to Be More Useful"
- Forbes.com: "Sneakernomics: Wearable Technology and Sports Retail"