Almost everyone needs to get more exercise, and walking is probably the easiest way. It’s also the most underrated.
Studies show that walking improves fitness and cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, boosts mood, helps ward off weight gain, reduces your risk for cancer and chronic disease, and improves endurance, circulation, and posture.
Whew! Those are some seriously impressive health benefits from just putting one foot in front of the other.
Break out of couch-potato mode
Research shows that tracking your steps increases physical activity by more than 26% — the reason being that fitness trackers make you aware of how much (or how little) you’re moving.
Setting a goal creates another incentive because you’re challenging yourself. You can even make a game out of trying to meet it. And you don’t even need to log 10,000 steps per day.
How many steps per day do I need?
Current health guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week — about 7- to 8,000 steps per day, which is around 2,000 more than most of us are getting.
You’ve probably heard the advice to take the stairs whenever possible or park your car farther away. Those are a good start because small behavior changes are proven to add up big-time.
20 ways to take more steps per day
1. Invest in a comfortable pair (or two) of walking shoes, and keep one pair in the car or at work. Go ahead — make ‘em count!
2. Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way home.
3. Meet friends for a walk (rather than for coffee or drinks).
4. Do yard work: rake leaves, mow the lawn, or shovel some snow.
5. Take the long way. Everywhere.
6. Go window shopping or people watching at the mall.
7. Ditch the conference room and have a walking meeting with coworkers. Walking has been shown to improve creativity.
8. Play with your kids (or someone else’s). Tag. Hopscotch. Or walk your children to and from school.
9. Wander the room while chatting on the phone.
10. Use the restroom one floor up (or down), or one that’s not right down the hall.
11. Peruse all the grocery store aisles (are you sure you didn’t forget anything?). Take an extra lap around the perimeter (where the healthier foods are located!) before checking out.
12. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing them.
13. Drink up! Hydration is important, and it will add a few pit stops to your day.
14. Take a walk to get lunch, or after lunch (rather than eating at your desk). It’s good for your digestion.
15. Cook dinner. Even in a smaller kitchen, walking from the fridge to the stove to the table adds up.
16. Walk the cart back to the front of the store after grocery shopping, rather than to the cart return.
17. Join a charity walk or other novelty race like The Color Run. The idea isn’t to go fast but rather support a cause (and have a blast doing it).
18. Download Pokémon Go on your smartphone and try to “catch ‘em all.”
19. Check out Geocaching, a modern-day treasure hunt that uses your phone’s GPS to search for hidden treasures in your area. It’s super fun, great for families, and will get everyone out and about. A full day of treasure hunting will easily net you 10,000 steps.
20. Develop an allergy to escalators and act accordingly.