Increasing your daily step count is an excellent fitness goal. It’s a great way to get you moving more often to spark up or resume an exercise habit. Even if you have been exercising routinely for years, it may not be enough to combat the ill effects of hours of sitting. That’s why adding more steps to your day is not only beneficial for your waistline but also for your overall health.
Walking may not be a huge calorie burner — the average person burns about 100 calories or so per mile — but adding more mileage to your day can make a big difference in weight control. According to Harvard Health Watch, one 2009 study found that the average person gains about 2.2 pounds a year during middle age. However, over 15 years of research, the study found that individuals who walked regularly gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t.
Not to mention: Walking offers plenty of health benefits, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes; reducing your risk of developing dementia and cancer; and even helping to reduce fibromyalgia pain. Plus, walking may be even more beneficial for your body than running. Walkers have a much lower risk of exercise-related injuries than runners, whose legs absorb about 100 tons of impact force in just one mile!
By now, you’ve probably heard the general “take 10,000 steps a day” recommendation, and while it might be a good fitness goal, it may not be the best place for you to start. According to the UK’s National Health Service, the average British adult walks between 3,000–4,000 steps a day. Suddenly jumping from 3,000–4,000 steps to 10,000 could be overwhelming for both your body and schedule.
Try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. (Pun intended!) Aim to add about 500 steps a day, increasing each week to build in more activity and eventually work your way up to 10,000 (or more) daily steps, if that’s your goal.
Here are five easy ways to help you gradually increase your daily step count:
1. Set a reminder to walk.
There’s no need to try to squeeze in all of your steps in one shot. In fact, you may get more benefit if you spread them out throughout the day. If you often get stuck at your desk for hours on end during your workday, try setting a reminder for every hour, and spend 15 minutes walking. If you’re able to repeat this five times a day, you may reach your 10,000 step goal before you leave work!
2. Walk and talk.
Decide that every time you take a phone call, you’ll walk. Whether you are in your office or at home, pace around your location. Is the weather nice? Take your mobile phone with you for an energizing outdoor conference call. Turning every phone conversation into a walking one can increase your daily step count almost effortlessly.
3. Try an indoor walking DVD.
It’s not always easy to fit in extra steps, especially if the weather won’t cooperate or you only have free time very early or late in the day. The great news is there are plenty of indoor walking DVDs. Check out my “Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles” DVD, which features a customizable menu that allows you to mix and match your miles to create your own personal walking plan every day. This DVD also includes two bonus routines: the “Strong Feet and Ankles Workout” and the “Strong Knees and Hips Routine” to help you continue to walk strong and pain free for years to come.
4. Partner up.
Whether it’s a post-dinner stroll with your spouse and/or kids or a power walk with a friend in the morning, sharing your steps with someone else is a great way to stay accountable and stick to your daily goal of walking more. Plus, you get to spend quality time with those you love.
5. Make things less convenient.
We’ve all heard the advice to “park farther away from the entrance” and “take the stairs” a million times, but how often do we actually do it? Sure, it’s more convenient to use the closer parking spot and to take the elevator up two floors, but putting just a little more effort into your routine also brings up your daily step tally.
Tell me, how do you add more steps to your day? Share your best tips with us in the comments below!