You may have heard you should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. And while that's not quite accurate — there's no universal perfect number of steps per day — there are benefits to pushing yourself to get up out of your seat and walk a little bit more.
A good starting point is figuring out your baseline, or about how much you're already walking in a day using an activity tracker, a pedometer or the step tracker on your phone.
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Then, give yourself a goal to hit, even if it isn't 10,000 steps a day. Maybe you add 2,000 daily steps to your baseline. Or, see if you can reach 7,500: That's when the health benefits of daily steps level off, according to a May 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Need a little help hitting your goal? Try these tips to help you log more steps.
Simple Ways to Walk More
For starters, walk everywhere you can. "We walk with our dogs, walk to get coffee," says Alexandra Weissner of bRUNch Running. "We even have 'walk meetings.' Anything within a 3-mile radius is 'we are walking there' distance for us."
There are tons of little things you can do over the course of the day to make the number on your fitness tracker climb. Some may feel smaller than others, but every step counts. And if you implement several of these into your day, you'll be surprised how quickly you reach your step goal.
Treat yourself to fun, colorful and comfortable walking shoes. A good pair will last for anywhere between 350 and 500 miles, which will likely work out to about six to nine months.
- Pace the bathroom while you brush your teeth.
- Walk around the kitchen while your coffee brews.
- Park the car at the other end of the parking lot from work or the store so you have to walk farther to get to the building, says Cortney Logan of bRUNch Running.
- If you have more than one bathroom available, use the one that's farther away (or even one on a different floor so you have to take the stairs).
- Take a walk on your lunch break.
- Walk and talk: If you have a phone call or meeting, take a walk while you do it. "This is great for conference calls when you don't have to take notes or if you need to meet with a colleague to brainstorm ideas," Weissner says. "Not only will it make the call or meeting better, you will be able to get outside and into fresh air."
- Take your furry friend for a longer walk than usual or offer to walk a neighbor's or a friend's dog.
- If you need to run a quick errand and the shop is close enough, walk there.
- Take your afternoon coffee break at a walkable coffee shop nearby.
- Play tag (or some other game that involves a lot of movement) with your kids in the backyard. Or walk while they bike or skateboard. "This way, walking will feel less like a chore and more like an activity where you get to spend time together," Weissner says.
- Turn on some music and dance (or pace) around the kitchen while you cook a meal.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator if you can.
- Carry shopping bags from your car to the house one at a time so you have to take multiple trips.
- Pace the room during commercials while watching TV.
- Take the long way to the printer to grab your papers, to the mailbox to drop off a letter or to the kitchen to refill your glass of water.
- Pick up litter around your neighborhood.
- Clean your house or apartment.
- Do some work around the yard. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, rake leaves, etc.
- If you take public transportation, get off one stop early (or get on one stop later).
- If you have a treadmill desk, use it for simple tasks like phone calls or answering emails.
- Find a podcast you love and only listen to it during longer walks to motivate you to get out there.
- Change up your route so you're excited to walk somewhere new. "Walk around your neighborhood, a local park or high school track," Weissner says. "If you live near a park or trail, once you feel comfortable, add different loops and hikes."
- Compete with yourself to stay committed. "Start small and continuously add to your distance or time," Logan says. "As you build your stamina you can add distance and speed into the mix."
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