10 Ways to Walk 10,000 Steps

benefits of walking

By Kathryn Hawkins

 Want to get in better shape? Skip the fad diets and lace up your sneakers instead! Many fitness experts recommend walking 10,000 steps (roughly five miles) each day as an optimal way to lose weight, reduce blood pressure and increase your lifespan.

 

A typical office worker walks around 5,000 steps a day through ordinary activities such as walking down the hallway or chasing after kids or pets. So how can you double your daily walking quota without having to spend tons of time at the gym?

There’s no need to do all of that walking on a treadmill – you’ll find many ways to incorporate extra steps into your daily life without turning the exercise into a chore. Here are some simple strategies for meeting the 10,000 steps challenge:

1.    Trade the elevator in for the stairs. Whether you’re headed to the office or a parking garage, take the long way up or down whenever you can. Two minutes of stair-climbing each day can burn off a pound of weight each year.

2.    Meet a friend for a daily stroll. Instead of grabbing coffee with a friend, take your socializing to the sidewalk or a nearby park. If you must get caffeinated, you can always grab a to-go cup and drink while you walk.

3.    Get a dog. Dogs are huge commitments, of course, so don’t adopt a pup just for the sake of your fitness goals – but if you’re ready for a furry friend, taking your dog out for his daily walks will ensure that you stick with a regular fitness routine. In a recent study, researchers found that older adults who were paired with dogs as walking companions showed a 28 percent increase in walking speed in just 12 weeks.

4.    Stay active while you work. If you sit at a desk all day, consider switching to a standing desk, so you can stretch and walk in place as you work. Use your cell phone for work calls, so you can walk around the building or take a stroll outside as you talk.

5.    Cut your lunch hour in half. Who really needs an hour to eat? Take a shorter meal break and spend the rest of your free time walking a pedestrian-friendly route near your office.

6.    Park at the far end of the parking lot while on shopping trips. Just because there’s a spot available right in front of the store doesn’t mean you need to take it: If you’re planning on picking up a couple of light items or will be using a grocery cart to wheel your goods from the store to your car, take advantage of the opportunity to walk from the far end of the lot.

7.    Shop local. If you live in an area that has stores, restaurants, and a post office within a couple of miles, plan to walk instead of drive. Use Google Maps or a mobile app like AroundMe to find out what’s within an easy distance and map out the best pedestrian-friendly route there.

8.    Go on a neighborhood walkabout. If you have a free day, there’s no better way to explore your surroundings and get in some exercise than by going on an open-ended journey around your neighborhood. Take a smartphone or handheld GPS with you to make sure you can find your way back home, and take note of all the unique spots you discover so you can walk back any time it suits you.

9.    Explore local parks and trails. No matter where you live, chances are, you can get to a scenic park or trail within just a few minutes’ drive (or walk). Check out the American Heart Association’s Start Walking Now search tool athttp://startwalkingnow.org/start_walking_paths.jsp to find the right walking trail for you, sorted by factors such as length, location, and difficulty. You can even upload your own favorite walking paths to the site so that others can enjoy your discoveries.

10.    Get a pedometer. Wearing a pedometer all day, every day, will help you discover how much you’re already walking, and will inspire you to meet your daily 10,000-step goal. Research shows that people who use pedometers – a simple $20 investment – walk a mile more each day on average than they did before beginning to count their steps. If you want something a little more high-tech, try a FitBit: The tiny device tracks your steps and automatically uploads the data to a website, so that you can measure your progress from day to day.

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