10,000 steps a day keeps the doctor away.
Okay, we can’t prove that, sure. But, we do believe that walking is hands down one of the best things for your health.
Why is walking good for you?
The human body does a few things well compared to other animals – and one of the things we do exceptionally well is WALK.
We are good at it. We evolved to walk.
Walking comes naturally to most people, even those who are considered “out of shape”. If you don’t know where to start with your fitness journey, WALK. And then walk some more! (And then hire a good coach who can teach you how to move correctly when it comes to resistance training!).
Walking as movement has the lowest barrier to entry. Anyone can do it. So, you can always add in walking here and there throughout your day to move MORE.
Will walking help me lose weight? (body fat)
Yes! Replace your structured cardio for more walking. You don’t need to do endless bouts of cardio in order to get lean.
Walking increases your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) which increases your daily calorie burn.
Walking is a low intensity and low skill way to achieve motion. Whether or not walking more “increases metabolism” doesn’t matter as much as it’s going to significantly improve your health and a healthy body equals a more efficient body.
Does walking improve mental health?
We believe it does! Going outside for a walk allows for creativity as it frees the mind to think and it encourages us to be present in the moment as we are outside in nature (and not on our phones).
Research shows that when you take a break from deep work and allow the mind to wander you are more productive and focused throughout your day (and creative!). The best vehicle for this is through movement. It is also a great way to help mitigate some soreness after a more intense resistance training workout – the last thing you want to do if you’re sore and stiff is sit around all day!
Should I walk 10,000 steps per day?
Let’s address the 10k steps per day “rule” we have all seen pop up everywhere.
Yes, 10,000 steps per day is an arbitrary number to hit, but it can be a great goal to give yourself simply because it will get you moving more throughout the day.
How long is 10,000 steps?
It depends. With the average stride, it is probably around 5 miles. If you’re taller or shorter it could be more or less, based off your stride.
In general, it takes around 10 minutes to walk 10,000 steps at a brisk pace. So, it would take around an hour and a half to two hours to walk your 10,000 steps. But, if you’re walking slower (which most of us are during general daily activity) it could take you closer to 2.5 or 3 hours to get in 10,000 steps.
Consider your daily activity and remember all of those steps count toward your goal.
How to Get 10,000 Steps
If you added in 20-30 minute walk every single day, you would notice tremendous health benefits (including aesthetic benefits!).
We like to encourage our clients to add in a 10-20 minute walk after each meal to aid with digestion. This can accumulate to an extra 30-60 minutes of walking every single day.
Here are 15 ways to get to 10,000 steps:
Park far away from the grocery store (or any store).
When you head to the store or the office or any place with a parking lot, choose a spot farther away so you can get a little extra walking in.
Pace around your house.
Sounds silly, we know. But, it works. If you’re going to sit around, might as well move a bit! You can do this while you’re watching Netflix or while you’re scrolling your phone or talking to your family.
Schedule 10-20 minutes to walk after every meal.
As we mentioned earlier, this aids in digestion and gets you on a schedule to get your steps in after a regular occurrence, like a meal.
Arrive early to appointments and walk vs scrolling.
Ever get to the dentist early? Or the doctors office? Instead of sitting in the car or a chair in the lobby, try walking around a bit. You could even scroll at the same time (just watch where you’re going).
Walk the length of one podcast
If you’ve got a favorite podcast, maybe try taking a walk while listening. Many podcasts are in the 10 to 30 minute range and could give you a good goal to hit while keeping you entertained during your walk.
Craving a summer treat? Walk to grab it.
Summer means outdoor patio drinks and snacks. Whether it’s ice cream, coffee, or another summer snack, challenge yourself to find a place near you to grad your treat instead of keeping it at home.
Establish a regular group walk.
Have some friends who you need to catch up with? Want to do something other than grab lunch? Plan a regular walking date with friends. You could hike, walk a trail, or just stroll the neighborhood and catch up.
Walk while working.
Check emails first thing in the morning? Grab your phone or tablet and walk while checking these. If you’re going to be reading, deleting, and responding, might as well walk a bit during that time.
Own a treadmill? Instead of running on your treadmill, walk on it.
This one sounds simple, yes. But, a lot of people purchase a treadmill and either plan to only sprint on it or hang clothes on it and stuff it in the corner. If you’ve got one, why not walk on it? You can add a little incline if you want a little more intensity.
Set a goal.
Maybe you’d like to hike a 14er, snowshoe this winter, take a backpacking vacation, or do a walk for charity. If you set a goal, you can give yourself steps to reach that goal by walking more.
Embrace your yard work.
You’d be surprised by how many steps you can get by mowing the lawn.
Volunteer for your community.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities where you can get some extra steps in. You can even download the Litter CleanUp app and track your clean up for volunteer hours.
Explore the neighborhood.
Check out local garage sales, farmers markets, and more in your neighborhood.
Start a side hustle.
Like dogs? Become a dog walker (or walk your own dog). You can get paid, play with dogs, AND get your steps in.
Track your steps.
Tracking your progress is the best way to hit your goal. You can use something as simple as your iphone and the health app to track steps. You can also use an apple watch, Fitbit watch, or other step counter.
Is 10,000 Steps Enough?
In our early days as trainers, we used to scoff at people who thought of walking as exercise. If you aren’t hammering yourself with weights and killing yourself every single workout – you didn’t do it right!
We’ve learned a lot since then.
Aside from resistance training, we think walking is the next best form of exercise you can do. It’s low impact, accessible, not stressful, and it adds more overall movement throughout your day.
Have we convinced you to walk more yet?
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Engelmann, Carsten et al. “Effects of intraoperative breaks on mental and somatic operator fatigue: a randomized clinical trial.” Surgical endoscopy vol. 25,4 (2011): 1245-50. doi:10.1007/s00464-010-1350-1
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm>