How to Walk Ten Thousand Steps a Day
Ten thousand steps. It's more than most people would think (about 4 miles) and the fact that we hear it all the time can be daunting. Many people, especially those with sedentary jobs, don't get anywhere near that. But we know that we should walk 10,000 steps a day and we want to. So how can we get there? Dr. George Fielding has ten tips for crushing that goal geared toward all people, no matter how fit, sedentary, or time-pressed. Bonus: you don't need to spend a lot!
Cut Yourself Some Slack. Don't try to walk 10,000 steps a day right out of the gate. That's a pretty easy way to burn out. Instead, start where you are and then increase your steps. Dr. George Fielding recommends that you buy a pedometer and for one week put it on when you wake up and take it off before sleep. Each night when you take it off write down the number of steps you took that day. 3,000? 7,000? 984? Don't judge, just track it. After one week, average out the number and add 500 steps. For the next week, your goal is to walk this new number.
Continue to track (paper and pen is fine, or a fancier tracker will do it for you on your smartphone or tablet) and each week add 500 steps. If you find you're really getting the hang of it, increase your weekly count by 1,000. Dr. George Fielding doesn't suggest going much higher than that.
Go Slow to go Fast. Your first week might be one when you're really busy or maybe even a week you get a cold or have a sick child in the house. George Fielding wants people to remember that they shouldn't think of a low goal as a bad thing. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people quit an exercise program is because they bite off more than they can chew. Just increase your count each week and take your time.
Be Sneaky. A walk doesn't always have to be a mile. Dr. George Fielding says it doesn't even have to be around the block. It can just be a walk to refill your water or pacing around your workplace. Get in two minutes of brisk walking each hour and watch the step count climb. There are other tried and true ways to sneak in some extra steps throughout the day. Dr. George Fielding recommends:
- Parking farther away.
- Taking the stairs.
- Walking up and down each aisle of the grocery store even if you only need a few things.
- Pacing while talking on the phone or cooking dinner.
- Not fast forwaring through commercials when watching television but using those breaks to walk instead.
Employ the Buddy System. Find a friend or neighbor interested in going for a short walk a few times a week. Start taking the dog or get your spouse to take a walk at a specific time of day. Accountability is a great motivator!
Keep on Keepin' On. Bad day? It's okay. Bad week? It's okay. That's right! Dr. George Fielding wants to remind readers that you don't need to wait until Monday or the first of the month: just walk the next day. If you are easily discouraged do not add additional steps to your goal after a rough week. The key is to keep walking every day and while you're adding steps each week try to continue to think of this as a daily goal -- that way you're likely to just keep going.
Gamify it. Dr. George Fielding knows that for many people, turning something into a game or competition is great motivation. Get colleagues to participate in tracking who hits their daily goal or find an app that allows you to earn badges for hitting certain walking milesones. There is something out there that will make this fun for you. Avoid rewards and punishment and just find something enjoyable. Check out alternate reality games that require yot to get to physical places to proceed in the game. Remember that craze from the summer? There are plenty of games like that that might catch your interest.
Indulge in Guilty Pleasures. We all have things we're embarrassed to love. Got a Taylor Swift addiction you keep hidden in your car? Love trashy novels or true crime podcasts? Dr. George Fielding recommends using your walk as a time to listen to things you love. You may find that listening to audiobooks even keeps you going a little longer -- especially if you're in a good chapter and just need to hear the whole thing!).
Learn About Your Community. For longer walks, head to a historic part of your city or town and stop to read plaques and landmark markers -- you'ld be amazed what you'll learn about your hometown. For a fun weekend activity, Dr. George Fielding encourages you to find a self-guided or group walking tour. Just google "Walking Tour [insert location]".
Get Off the Asphalt. Walking around your neighborhood is fine but Dr. George Fielding thinks you should check out local nature trails and take a few walks in the woods, through meadows, around a local pond or on the beach. Changing up the scenery keeps things interesting while allowing you to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Substitute Sedentary Activities with Steps. Do you usually go to a movie once a week? Meet a friend for coffee on Fridays? Switch out one of these a month for a walk to start. Or, go for a walk after the movie and discuss it rather than grabbing a drink. You can still do the things you love and incorporate walking.
Ten thousand steps is a way to promote your health and wellness and while it seems daunting, Dr. George Fielding points out that by simply tracking and setting goals you can get there in a matter of a few weeks and will be surprised how easy it is to maintain. Employ some or all of Dr. George Fielding's tips to help you get to your goal of being active -- no matter what your current activity level.