When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are a couple of golden rules that are common knowledge. While the origin of these standards is debatable, everyone knows they should be drinking eight glasses of water per day, sleeping at least eight hours per night, and walking 10,000 steps per day. The 10,000 steps is a newer phenomenon that became mainstream thanks to the wild popularity of fitness trackers—gadgets that count how many steps a person takes per day. But why 10,000? Well, it’s an even round number that was first recommended by Japanese pedometers in the 1960s. Today it is widely promoted as a positive goal with countless health benefits, from stronger joints to reduced stress to improved cardiovascular health to lower blood pressure to increased metabolism.
But, making changes to hit your step goal doesn’t have to be drastic. Work on the third floor of a building? Walk instead of taking the elevator and you’ve already got roughly 114 steps! Each flight of stairs is equivalent to walking 38 steps. Simple as that! Here are other ways you can achieve 10,000 steps.
Invest in a fitness tracker. From an Apple Watch to Fitbit, there are lots of ways to track how many steps you take in a day. Research which type of tracker is best suited to your daily life—and budget, they range in price from $26 to $370. Once you’ve got it, wear the bracelet or monitor and go about your week as you normally would. Keep a log of how many steps you take each day. At the end of the week, take a moment to reflect on which days had more steps and what you did in those days.
Aim for a target. If you’re only walking 4,000 steps per day, getting to 10,000 can seem like an unattainable goal. Set a smaller target and build up to the 10,000 steps. Add 1,000 steps per week and reward yourself for passing a milestone. Just make sure the reward isn’t food based, you don’t want to throw away your hard work on an ice cream sundae. Get a manicure, see that movie you’ve been dying to watch or book a massage.
Set reminders to walk. You probably can’t block off three hours of your day for a long walk, but you can devote five minutes of every hour for a quick walk. Add an alert to your daily calendar to go off every hour or two hours. Remind yourself that it’s time for a walk, then get up and walk around the block, down the street to get a coffee, or to the other side of the office and back.
Take your calls while walking. Do you call your mom (sister, best friend, brother, etc.) once a day? Instead of having that conversation while sitting on your sofa, chat while walking around a nearby park. Even work calls can be made during a walk: If the call doesn’t involve taking notes or reading data, consider multi-tasking and getting steps in while you chat. A 30 minute phone call while walking can rack up 1,800 steps!
Pick a place to walk to. Think about the locations that you frequent. Work, the gym, the grocery store, your girlfriend’s house—are any of these places within walking distance? If the answer is yes, make it a habit of walking to that place instead of driving or taking public transportation—every time you go. Walking to and from the fitness studio is a wonderful addition to your workout. You’ll arrive at the class warmed up and benefit from a nice cool down on the return walk home.
Go shopping. Sure, ordering groceries, home goods, and clothing online are convenient and comfortable, but you’re sitting in a desk doing it. Shopping, where you take the time to walk around a department store or market, can be plenty of steps. If the grocery store is nearby, consider walking (and taking some extra laps inside can help boost your step count!). Add if you decide to drive to the grocery store, add more steps by parking at the back of the parking lot—each extra minute of walking to your car adds 84 steps!
Make it fun. Instead of meeting a friend for drinks, meet for a walk followed by drinks. Choose a beautiful place to walk—along the beach, in a forest, or through a park and be mindful of your surroundings. Walking alone? Listen to your favorite songs or download a fascinating podcast. You’re making a positive life change, so be happy about your walk.
Get a dog. Yes, a dog is a huge commitment, but if you’ve been contemplating getting one, now is the time to do it! An adorable puppy has to be walked several times a day, and if it’s your dog, you’ll have to take it on frequent walks. Not planning on getting a dog anytime soon? Ask a friend who has a dog if you can join them for twice-weekly walks. Walking your dog for 15 minutes is equivalent to nearly 1,000 steps!
You’ll be surprised how fast you can hit your goal by following these small lifestyle changes. Have any other tips that help you accomplish your 10,000 steps? Share them in the comments!