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 magic number for the number of steps a person needs per day), there are benefits to pushing yourself to get up out of your seat and walk a little bit more. All those extra steps add up!
A good starting point is figuring out your baseline, or about how much you're already walking in a day. If you're taking fewer than 3,000 steps per day, it's time to get moving. Adding 2,000 steps to your daily total is a great place to start.
Then, give yourself a big goal to hit (even if it isn't 10,000 steps a day). Try 7,500: According to a May 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, that's when most health benefits of daily steps level off.
Unsure how to hit that number? One great way is to join our Daily Steps Challenge with Cortney Logan and Alexandra Weissner of bRUNch Running. Then try out some of these tips to help you get creative.
Simple Ways to Walk More
For starters, walk everywhere. "We walk with our dogs, walk to get coffee, walk to restaurants and ball games," Weissner says. "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 watch the number on your fitness tracker climb. Some may seem silly or 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.
- 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, Logan says.
- If there are two bathrooms at work (or wherever you happen to spend the majority of your day), 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 the office 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. Another great option: "Go visit a local shelter and offer to walk a pup," Logan says.
- 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 instead of in the office.
- Play tag (or some other game that involves a lot of movement) with your kids in the backyard. Or walk while they bike or ride their skateboards. "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 around the kitchen while you cook a meal. (Or you can pace, but dancing is way more fun!)
- Whenever you can (and if your knees allow), take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- "Make walking a social or family affair," Logan says. This healthier alternative to happy hour allows you to spend some time with family or friends while getting your sweat on, she says.
- Carry shopping bags from your car to the house one at a time so you have to take multiple trips.
- If you're watching TV, pace the room while the commercials are on.
- 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 office or neighborhood.
- Pace when you're waiting at the doctor's office or any other kind of appointment.
- Instead of sending an email, walk over to your co-worker's desk (as long as they don't look deeply invested in something, of course).
- Skip the drive-thru and walk inside instead.
- Clean your house or apartment.
- Do some work around the yard. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, rake leaves, etc.
- Take an extra lap around the grocery store.
- If you take public transportation, get off one stop early (or get on a few stops later).
- Walk to and from work.
- Walk your kids to and from school.
- If your office has a treadmill desk, use it for simple tasks like phone calls or answering emails. (Or ask your office manager to add one to the wishlist.)
- Join a walking or hiking group. That way you'll have a schedule and people who you know are counting on you to show up.
- Make a standing date to go a walk every day at a certain time (before work, after dinner, etc.).
- Meet friends for a hike along the beach or at the park instead of (or in addition to) coffee or drinks. "Plan your walk with an activity to spend more time together afterwards or as a time for you to connect one-on-one," Logan says. "Set a goal together and become each other's biggest cheerleaders."
Read more: 6 Ways to Burn More Calories by Walking
Make the Journey a Little More Fun
Since this challenge means you'll be walking a lot, here's how you can make each step a little more interesting.
- 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.
- Listen to music, and change up your playlist with your mood. If you're walking to the gym, play upbeat music to get you pumped. If you're walking before bed, play gentler music to help you wind down.
- Find a podcast you love and only listen to it during longer walks.
- Change up your route. "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." Then take some pictures along the way to show the Facebook Challenge Group what you saw.
- Compete with yourself. "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."
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!