You may have heard walking 10,000 steps per day is the magic number. While it’s a great goal, especially if you’ve been sedentary, it’s actually an arbitrary number that isn’t right for everyone. Some people may be able to surpass 10,000 steps easily. Others may feel intimidated by the number and decide not to make an effort if they feel like it’s unattainable.
Research shows health benefits to increasing your step count, even if you’re walking fewer than 10,000 steps per day. We believe in starting small and getting 1% better every day.
THE PROBLEM WITH BEING SEDENTARY
It can be easy for people who drive to work (or work from home) and sit at a desk most of the day to fall into sedentary habits. Sedentary in this case is defined by taking less than 5,000 steps per day. In fact, the average American walks just 1.5–2 miles (or roughly 3,500–4,000 steps) a day. When you’re sedentary for long periods, it can lead to health issues such as an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. Not to mention, the damage it does on joints, muscles and tendons.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HIGHER STEP COUNTS
When you walk more than 5,000 steps per day, the health benefits increase. There has been countless studies on this and they all find the same results: walking 1,000 additional steps per day lowered the risk of premature death from heart disease, stroke and all other causes.
Other research showed people who increased their step count from 4,000 to 8,000 steps per day had a 51% lower risk of death from all causes. When they walked 12,000 steps per day, their risk of death from all causes was 65% lower than those who only walked 4,000 steps.
Sounds simple enough – so let’s start moving!
The people who had the greatest number of steps per day tended to walk with higher intensity, but you don’t have to be a fast walker to lower your risk of death from all causes, according to the study — you just have to log the steps.
With that being said, if you want to increase your calorie burn, there needs to be some high-intensity intervals thrown in there.
How many is too many steps? One study showed zero additional benefit beyond 12,000 steps a day. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep increasing that step-count though!
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR STEP COUNT
To improve your fitness and keep up a walking routine, here are some smart tips for increasing your step count:
- Build slowly. Let’s start with 1,000 steps per day. It’s more manageable than thinking 5,000 more steps. If we increase the steps over a longer period of time, there’s a good chance we can avoid the risk of injury. It will also make it easier to stick with the change. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just start walking – it can be at work during lunch break, or at home in the neighborhood.
- Include both short and long walks. Scheduling one long daily walk may help you increase your step count, especially if you pair it with a series of shorter walks. The longer walk can be during the week on a lunch break, or on the weekend when there is potentially more time to allow this. The mental benefits are huge here too – a longer walk can clear the mind and provide a form of meditation.
- Be active when you aren’t walking. Make an effort to move more throughout your day. You’ve without a doubt heard: park further away in a parking lot or to take the stairs. These are important to listen to – it’s a great way to increase the step count and the sense of accomplishment when doing this will translate to a better day. What are some other smaller ways to increase movement? Pick 1 room per week and spend time organizing it (the kitchen cabinets are a great place to start). What about grocery shopping – even though we promote shopping the perimeter, if you can handle it, then walk every aisle (just avoid grabbing that processed food!). Get outside and do some yard work – no yard? Walk the neighbor! Pick 2 of your favorite songs (typically 3:30min in length) and start walking. When they are over, turn around to walk back home and hit play again.
Need some more ideas? Reach out to us, we are happy to help.
1% better. That’s what we aim for every day.