How to Increase Your Daily Steps

Numerous studies, particularly in the last decade, have raised the alarm about the consequences of sedentary behavior, ranging from affecting heart health and metabolism to threatening premature mortality.

Even if you obtain the level of activity advised by the US Department of Health and Human Services (and numerous other health organizations), evidence indicates that excessive sitting may pose health hazards.

So, how many steps do you require every day? And how frequently should you repeat those steps?

According to Bruce Bailey, Ph.D., professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the advice to acquire 10,000 steps per day at least isn’t founded on any study. According to Harvard Medical School, the figure comes from a Japanese pedometer maker that started marketing in 1965 to promote its device.

However, obtaining a sufficient number of steps each day has several benefits, especially if done over the day rather than all at once, he claims.

“The more steps you take, the less sedentary you are, and this has a variety of health benefits, from improved cardiovascular function to improved mood and energy levels,” he explains.

Walking, for example, has been linked to improved cardiovascular health in persons of all ages in previous studies. Another study, published in 2018, discovered that just 10 minutes of vigorous walking improved mood compared to being sedentary.

A 2019 research that studied data from over 16,000 older women discovered that those who took between 4,400 and 7,500 steps per day lived longer than those who took less steps (based on data from the study’s four years). The advantages of increasing steps grew until they reached a plateau at 7,500 steps per day.

More steps can contribute to your overall fitness in addition to the underlying health and mood-boosting advantages.

Jennifer Ashton, MD, the top medical reporter for Good Morning America and ABC News, challenged herself over the course of a month to focus on increasing her own foot traffic after noticing her own daily step count was relatively low. Her book, The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter – One Month at a Time, describes the experience.

“What four weeks of consistent walking had done for me, in short, was overhaul how I looked and felt,” writes Dr. Ashton in the book. “I’ve always been an energetic person, but when I started moving more and sitting less, my energy levels increased by at least 25%.” At the same time, I felt more tranquil, as if walking were a form of movement meditation.”

Consider shorter bursts of steps to be a useful strategy: Rather than attempting to squeeze in a daily lengthy walk, Kourtney Thomas, CSCS, a fitness coach based in St Louis, recommends sprinkling little workouts throughout the day.

“Try to make move more’ your mantra,” she recommends. “You’d be surprised how many steps you can get in without putting in much more effort if you made this an everyday habit.”

1. Establish Daily Objectives
According to Thomas, goal setting might provide the extra energy you need when you’re feeling particularly couch-bound.

Setting a new step count target every day might be enough. For example, take 200 more steps today than you did yesterday, then another 200 the next day, and so on. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, Thomas advises setting objectives based on time or distance. Perhaps a 10-minute lunchtime walk becomes a 15-minute walk.

“Setting huge goals right away tends to backfire,” Thomas warns. “Rather, think of it as doing a little bit more each day.” Make it enjoyable, see it as a challenge, and set a reasonable objective.”

2. Go exploring, even if it’s just around the block.
Ashton recalls taking more steps while traveling and visiting new areas in her book. However, you may explore regardless of which nation, city, or neighborhood you are in. Even in a highly familiar neighborhood, taking the time to examine your surroundings in a fresh light will help you get more steps in.

Explore new paths by walking down unfamiliar streets or trails. You may also stroll around the perimeter of your property many times, paying close attention to the plants, trees, walkways, and landscaping surrounding you.

3. Utilize Reminders
When you’re relaxing or sitting at a computer, it might be difficult to remember to take a stroll, so let your phone remind you. There are various free applications available to remind you to begin exercising.

Consider choices such as Stand Up!, Randomly RemindMe, and Time Out. Set up a couple of 15-minute “meetings” on your daily schedule.

“You really want to focus on creating a beneficial habit, so it’s automatic,” Thomas explains. “With practice, you can get to the point where moving more and incorporating steps into your day feels as natural as brushing your teeth.” It’s just what you do to maintain your health.”

4. Park at the far end of the parking lot.
This is a familiar tip, but Thomas believes it is worth repeating. Depending on where you go shopping, the parking lot might be pretty large, allowing you to get in a lot of steps both arriving and departing. Consider walking to your errands instead than driving in the first place. And if you can stroll in or beside nature, that’s an added bonus for your well-being.

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“Even in urban areas, being around some trees and grass, or other natural elements, has been shown to increase physical activity, improve mental health, and even boost the immune system,” says Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Ph.D., director of ISGlobal’s Urban Planning, Environment, and Health Initiative in Barcelona, Spain. He co-authored a 2019 research that concluded that increased utilization of green space is so effective that it should be designated a public health intervention.

5. Encourage Distractions
Being pleasantly entertained while getting your steps in is a terrific method for prolonging your exercise more than you might otherwise, according to Thomas. Do you need to make phone calls for work? Get to your feet and take a few steps while you’re at it.

Rather than catching up with a buddy while sitting at home or in line, schedule a call when you have to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, or walk your dog – any chore that doesn’t demand much mental effort. Consider downloading an engrossing audiobook or podcast for a long (or short) stroll.

6. Become Competitive
When Ashton told her family, friends, and coworkers that she was participating in a step challenge, the response was encouraging – many were eager to participate, she writes in the book. As a result, her endeavor became a group effort.

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According to a study, turning it into a friendly competition might be even more effective. A 2019 study discovered that when participants collaborated with friends and coworkers for a common purpose or competed against one another, they were more effective at increasing physical activity than when they did it alone. Competing with others increased step counts even months after the main intervention finished.

The tactics presented here may appear basic and straightforward — and that is precisely the objective. Taking extra steps should be done throughout the day, in little bursts that allow you to do your tasks and live your life.

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