Fitness experts often tout walking as one of the most underrated forms of fitness. Compared to its counterparts like running, swimming, and biking, it frequently receives a lesser status because it does not feel as effortful.
No pain, no gain right? Well, maybe not!
In fact, there are many reasons walking substantially improves health. Some include improving fitness, cardiac health, posture, circulation, and mood while alleviating depression and the risk for chronic diseases. (Just to name a very few!)
Conversely, being sedentary and not prioritizing movement is an undesirable lifestyle behavior A sedentary lifestyle greatly increases the risk for developing a slew of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. And with more people working from home nowadays, it is vital to keep moving throughout the day.
In this article, learn how to get more steps in a day and do so effortlessly!
How Many Steps to Walk Per Day
Based on a meta-analysis of multiple studies, the average American accumulates about 5,100 steps per day. Comparatively, people in Switzerland and Australia achieve about 9,650 steps per day.
But how many steps does one need to accrue to obtain health benefits and prevent chronic health conditions like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes? Interestingly, the answer might not be as straightforward as once thought.
In the 1960s, a pedometer company in Japan decided to promote achieving 10,000 steps a day as an advertising promotion for a campaign. This number was not based on research, but it sounded plausible and quickly became adopted by walking clubs around the globe.
Ironically, once researchers began backtracking and conducting experimental studies, they determined that the number was quite accurate and that 10,000 steps per day could enhance vitality and reduce health risks. Ever since, nearly every activity monitor or pedometer application promotes the ultimate goal of 10,000 steps.
However, just like every other health goal, practice, or protocol, the answer is more nuanced on an individual basis.
Step Goal Considerations
First of all, not everyone can accumulate 10,000 steps a day including the elderly, sick, people working multiple jobs per day, and a host of other populations. In this case, aiming to get as many steps as one can per day is a solid goal. Research showed taking at least 6,000 steps per day lowered mortality risk in men, so that is a good starting point.
Conversely, it is recommended that children and people aiming to lose weight should aim for closer to 15,000 steps per day. For other specific athletic goals or endeavors, up to 20,000 steps is reasonable.
Intensity also matters, though. Brisk walking at a faster pace or at an incline reduces the total number of steps one needs to take. While there is no concrete recommendation in this instance, aiming to achieve about 7,500 per day is a good goal when intensity is heightened.
On a similar note, it is suggested for everyone that of the 10,000 steps, 3,000 to 4,000 of them should be at a moderate to vigorously intense pace for maximum benefit.
If a pedometer or iPhone is not available to track step counts, another way to measure is through time. The American Heart Association and other health governing bodies recommend at least 30 minutes of walking per day for minimal health and fitness benefits. However, 45 to 60 minutes a day confers further prevention and health advantage.
Effortless Ways to Get More Steps in a Day
If the average American is only accruing about half of the recommended 10,000 steps per day, it may seem like a daunting conquest to most. Sedentary lifestyles are the norm and with work from home orders, people are sitting more, commuting less, and unable to meander around office buildings, to lunch, and other work curriculars.
Speaking about working from home, check out these best tips for working remotely to maximize productivity. Tips six, seven, nine, and ten even include effortless ways to add in movement!
Here are 10 additional ways to conveniently get more steps throughout the day:
1. Walk while brushing teeth.
Instead of standing in front of the mirror while scrubbing those pearly whites, take the opportunity to get in more steps by walking around the bathroom or house.
2. Use a small water bottle.
Rather than using a giant water bottle that may only need refilled once throughout the day, stick to smaller cups or water bottles so that they need to be refilled every so often. Those twenty or steps to the fridge add up, especially if you are filling up seven to eight times a day.
3. Set a break timer.
Simply set a timer to ring at five until the next hour for 5 to 8 hours and commit to walking around the block or home.
4. Hold walk and talk meetings.
An easy way to acquire many steps, hold walk and talk meetings where instead of meeting over zoom, employees listen while roaming the home. One can acquire close to 2,500 steps during a half-hour meeting and nearly 5,000 steps in an hour!
5. Vacuum, sweep, or Swiffer regularly.
Not only will your health thank you, but the floors will too! Spending even just ten minutes cleaning the hardwood and carpet can tack on hundreds of steps.
6. Walk up 4 to 7 flights of stairs.
If setting that timer and wandering the house is not appealing, take it up a notch by walking up (and maybe back down) the staircase for five minutes or about 4 to 7 seven times.
7. Walk and talk phone convos.
Similar to walk and talk meetings, take the convo outside or stroll the house. Walking without considering it as intentional exercise has never been so easy.
8. Tackle forgotten household chores.
Along with sprucing up the floors, tidying the rest of the house by dusting, wiping off counter and dresser tops, even putting materials back in their rightful place easily accumulates significant steps.
9. Consider a walking treadmill desk.
Maybe the most obvious tactic, but getting a walking treadmill desk can allow you to work and walk at the same time, allowing for as many steps as desired.
10. Park in far parking spaces.
If leaving the house, take the opportunity to park in the furthest lots to accrue an additional hundred to 50 to 200 steps depending on the distance.
Incorporating a couple to a few of these tactics a day can substantially increase average steps per day overtime. After a bit, 10,000 steps per day will not seem so daunting.
A Final Word
Although it tends to reside on less of an exercise pedestal, walking is an incredibly effective movement. Contributing to improved physical, mental, and emotional health, it is also one of the simplest ways to effortlessly fit in exercise.
Current lifestyles tend to promote sitting and sedentary behavior, so intentionally programming steps into a day is vital. Choose a few tactics from above to effortlessly incorporate exercise while accomplishing another daily activity at the same time.
If 10,000 steps is not feasible at this time, aim for a minimum of 5,000 and work your way up. Or, focus on intensity by walking faster or uphill to reap similar benefits as the ultimate mark.
Steinhilber, B. Why Walking Is the Most Underrated Form of Exercise. NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group. www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-walking-most-underrated-form-exercise-ncna797271.