Ways to increase the number of daily steps

Do any research on how many steps you should take each day, and you’ll likely come across the number 10,000. Why? Health and fitness experts recommend an active lifestyle for optimal health. One way to know you’re getting enough physical activity is to walk 10,000 steps a day. For an average adult, it takes about 2,000 steps to walk the distance of one mile or just over a kilometre.

So, taking 10,000 steps means you’ve walked around five miles or just over 7kms. Taking this many steps has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve the health of your heart, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

While the idea of walking 10,000 steps a day originated in Japan nearly half a century ago, the idea has now been adopted in many countries as the ideal amount of walking for a healthy, active lifestyle. Seem like a lot? It may be.

Those with inactive lifestyles take less than 3,000 steps a day, and the average North American logs only slightly more, coming in at around 4,000 – 5,000. If this includes you, it’s time to get moving.

Here are simple ways anyone can add more steps to their day.

Unless you have a job that requires a lot of walking, such as a mailman, nurse, or waitress, it’s difficult to get your 10,000 steps with normal activities. So you’ve got to add walking to your schedule. If you normally take around 5,000 steps, then adding a two-and-a-half mile walk to your day will fulfill your goal.

Get up a few minutes early and take a walk around the neighbourhood. Walk with a friend or your spouse for company and accountability.

When you get home, take the dog for a walk around the block. He’ll love it and you’ll be closer to your goal.

Have the option of taking the elevator or stairs? Guess what you should go for. That’s right – choose the stairs! Walking up and down two flights of stairs can add 76 steps or more to your day. It also gives you a pretty good workout, will help with your heart and lungs too.

When you arrive at a store or your work, choose a parking space at the edge of the parking lot. The few extra steps can make a big difference. As an added perk, you won’t have to spend much time looking for a parking place, so you’ll save some gas money as well.

If you’re busy doing something that could be done while moving around, get up! March in place or walk on the treadmill while you’re watching your favourite show. Lose your remote control so you’ll have to get up from the couch to change the channel.

While you’re talking on the phone to your best friend, walk around the house or the yard. And if you’re waiting for your next flight, take a walk around the terminal.

Is your child on an athletic team? Don’t just sit there and watch. Instead of sitting on the sidelines during your child’s practice, walk laps around the field.

Chances are you don’t know how many steps you take each day. To get an idea, wear a pedometer for a week to track your steps.

Pedometers range in price. You can find a basic, ‘count your steps’ model for less than $10. But if you want more options, a high-tech pedometer can cost more than $100.

Regardless of your pedometer’s cost and quality, if you find you need to increase your steps, take it gradually. You don’t want to go from 3,000 to 10,000 steps in one day, as this can be a recipe for wanting to give up. Rather, increase your steps by 20% each week until you reach the goal of 10,000. When those 10,000 steps are part of your daily life, you’ll find you feel stronger, breathe easier, and look trimmer. Eventually, you’ll forget what life was like before you fell into step!

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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