Do you want to improve your health and physical fitness? If the answer to this question is an enthusiastic yes, the good news is you won’t have to take up jogging to make your wish come true: walking is enough.
The slightly less good news is that to get maximum benefit from your walking regime, health agencies say you’ll need to manage an average of 10, 000 steps—or five miles—a day.
This is a lot of walking to fit in. The task begins to loom especially large if you lead a typically busy family and working life, and larger still when you consider that the average person walks a mere 3,000 steps a day. But by using these tips to gradually increase your activity levels, you’ll be surprised how quickly and easily you’re able to meet the challenge.
Take Advantage Of Technology
If you’re serious about increasing your activity, measurement is a must. After all, what gets measured tends to get done. So it’s worthwhile taking some time to get yourself kitted out with the right step counting technology. I recommend you choose either a dedicated pedometer, or a smartphone app like Map My Walk.
For most purposes it’s not necessary to spend out for one of the many wearable activity trackers on the market, and indeed these don’t measure movement as accurately as you might imagine . But they do have the advantage of keeping an automatic record of the steps you take, which the cheaper pedometers don’t.
Make Weekends Your Most Active Time
Don’t forget that your aim is to achieve an average of 10,000 steps a day, so you don’t have to hit your target every day provided you do more on other days. Most of us find it easier to be more active at weekends, so the best approach is to take the average of your weekly activity, using the weekend to top up your count as required.
Walk to the park for a game of soccer with the kids, or in bad weather take your pedometer to the mall or even a museum: you’ll be astonished how quickly the steps add up.
Two Legs Are Good, But More Is Better
Studies suggest that one of the surest ways to get more exercise is to become a dog owner. But if pet parenthood strikes you as a step too far, then an effective alternative is to recruit some of your two-legged companions to your cause. Ask them to cheer lead your achievements via your smartphone app, or sign up for an online challenge and let your competitive spirit spur you on.
Turn Pacing Into A Habit
If you have a desk job, you could be forgiven for thinking that your opportunities for daytime activity are few. But to assume this is to overlook the power of pacing around while you’re talking on the phone or mulling things over. Not only does pacing give an enormous boost to your step count, it could help you think those tricky issues through.
Plan A Walking Lunch
You know it’s a really bad idea to bolt your lunch while sitting at your desk, but like so many of us you end up doing just that day after day. But stepping off the corporate treadmill for an hour at lunchtime can provide a wonderful pick-me-up for your productivity.
You now also have the perfect excuse to take a break: your mission to achieve 10,000 steps is a great reason to leave your desk and explore your office neighborhood.
Two brisk 15-minute walks–one before and one after eating–nets you around 4,000 steps and will help your body handle carbohydrates better, warding off the dreaded three o’clock energy slump.
Walking has such a huge range of benefits for your health, fitness and clarity of mind that it’s well worth pushing yourself to achieve the recommended average of 10,000 steps a day. It’s cheaper, more social and less inconvenient than going to the gym, and you can even fit it around your workday schedule.
Remember, the longest journey starts with the first step, so download your pedometer app right now and find out how far your journey can take you.