Do I Really Need 10,000 Steps a Day?
Why are steps each day so important?
As humans, we were meant to move. Physical activity is necessary for our health and wellness. Lack of activity is linked to many conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis to name a few.
One of the easiest ways to get exercise is simply walking! Using those large muscles in your legs and moving your arms is a great way to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.
How many steps a day do you need?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This is the number that is said to help reduce certain health conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure.
A great way to meet that recommendation is walking about 10,000 steps each day. The time involved in your daily step count is part of the recommended 150 minutes.
How active are you?
Your level of activity is based on how many steps you take each day. The higher your level of activity, the more health benefits you will receive.
- 5,000 steps per day or less = inactive
- 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day = average
- 10,000 - 12,499 steps per day = above average
- 12,500 steps per day or more = very active
Ways to increase your steps per day
With a little planning and some creativity, you can easily increase the number of steps you take each day, and not even notice, except for how much better you feel!
Do not focus on the number in the beginning. The number of steps you aim for in a day should be based on your goals.
- Walk daily. Don’t skip days. Your walk might be inside your home or office or outside. Steps are steps, no matter where you take them.
- Take more walks. Instead of one long walk, take two or three smaller walks of 10 or 15 minutes during the day.
- Walk and talk. Whenever possible, take your phone calls in places where you can walk or pace back and forth while talking. This is a great approach that helps you burn calories even during your meetings.
- Take the long way. Whether you’re on your way to the bathroom, cafeteria, parking lot, or a meeting, avoid the temptation to take the shortest route. Opt for the long way to easily add steps into your day.
- Make yourself walk. Purposely force yourself to walk a few extra steps when you have the option during the day. Instead of looking for the closest parking space, park at the far end of the parking lot, at the top of a parking garage, or down the street from your destination. You will even avoid those fights over a close spot, and all those extra steps count toward your daily goal!
- Turn idle waiting into steps. Walk around the building while waiting for appointments, instead of sitting in the waiting room
- Take the stairs. Skip the elevator or escalator and tackle that staircase to give your heart a little boost and increase your daily steps.
- Use scheduled time as an opportunity. When taking children to their activities or sporting events, take advantage of the time by walking around the gym or sidelines at the field instead of sitting in the bleachers as an idle spectator.
- Look online. Check out free videos online to help guide you through some walking workouts that can even add some strength training to your steps.
Remember, a few extra steps a day can help you improve your health and fight chronic conditions. For more tips on exercise, visit the Moving section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.
About the Author:
Kellie Armstrong, MS, RN, CBN
Kellie Armstrong is the manager for the Center for Bariatric Surgery at The Miriam Hospital. She was the state of Rhode Island’s first certified bariatric nurse, and is also a success story for bariatric surgery. After having surgery, Kellie lost over 100 pounds, lives a healthy lifestyle and now participates in triathlons, marathons, and other healthy events.
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