Many people believe that taking 10,000 steps or more per day, is worth setting a daily goal for improved health and fitness. Have you ever wondered where that benchmark came from?
In the 1960’s a Japanese company started making the first commercial pedometers, which were called manpo-kei. Directly translated into English, the pedometer was named the “10,000 step meter”. Shortly afterward additional health studies were conducted that confirmed certain conditions were improved, including lower blood pressure, maintained glucose levels and regulated mood and energy.
We know that sedentary lifestyles increase our risk for obesity, circulatory disorders, impaired cardiovascular health and more. And if your goal is to sneak a minimum of 10,000 steps into each day, we have ten easy suggestions that can help.
1. Get a Pedometer You Love
Finding a device, you understand, and feel comfortable using is essential. That might mean shopping around for the right pedometer that suits your personal style. It should be small, light and easy to wear, and clip-on to clothing for accurate readings. More advanced devices can even export your miles as a report, and send the information by email, for serious training and tracking. Visit the Consumer Reports website for a 2017 review of new and exciting devices you can use, to record your steps and implement your daily fitness goals.
2. Download an App to Record Your Progress
While most pedometers come with their own app and software, many of them are also compatible with other types of apps you can use to track your daily progress. Check out “The 25 Best Fitness Apps of 2017” by PC Magazine, for some ideas and suggestions.
3. Take the Stairs
Next time you are commuting to the office, heading out for lunch or shopping, count how many times you take an escalator, rather than the stairs. It is almost counterintuitive for most of us; we see an escalator and it becomes an automatic choice. But you can reprogram that response, and take the stairs to chalk up more steps, and improve muscle strength and flexibility. One added benefit? You’ll get to the bottom or top faster than those standing stationary on the escalator. And you’ll feel more alert after a brief and healthy exertion.
4. Schedule Calls While You Are Walking
Some telephone conversations can go on for a long time. Whether you are on a conference call at work, or catching up with your Mom, you always have the option of standing and moving, while you talk. Did you know that many successful C-Level executives insist on standing and walking during important phone calls? Increasing the blood circulation while walking, also helps to clear the mind and improve alertness, and memory.
Don’t take that next call sitting down! Get up, stand up and keep moving to meet your daily step goal, and to improve mental clarity, and fitness at work or at home.
5. Park Further Away
How many times have you pulled up to a shopping plaza, or a grocery store, and observed how long other customers will spend circling, and trying to find the closest parking spot? When you consider the time and energy it takes to wait, or jockey for a spot close to the front door, doesn’t it make more sense to buck the crowd, and park further away?
Choose a spot that is two to three times the distance that other people would want to park at. The good news is that there will always be a spot, far from the door. The other benefit is that you will get in extra steps both ways (in and out), and have no problem exiting the parking lot, from the outfield.
6. Walk-In Rather Than Drive-Thru
If you and your family rely on drive-thru foods during the week, for lunch or dinner, you can alter the habit to sneak in more steps, and manage calories more efficiently. Rather than sit in a long line at the drive-thru, make it a new family habit, and park your car, and head inside. Walking in to get your food is also kinder to the environment, rather than idling in a long line up.
7. Use a Standing Desk
Sedentary positioning is the source of many health and wellness problems, particularly for desk workers, who can remain stationary for hours. A standing desk allows for prolonged positioning in a far better stance, that promotes regular circulation. In addition, some studies have suggested that individuals who use a standing desk, take more steps during the day, than fully seated colleagues.
You will move more, and feel better if you can implement a standing desk into your work day. And you will also be able to see when a fresh pot of coffee is ready (another great excuse to take some extra strides in the office).
8. Netflix and Treadmill
You’ve heard of the ritual “Netflix and chill”, but there are other ways that you can retrain your power watching, to increase daily steps and personal fitness. If you have a series or show you are watching, take your tablet or your smartphone with you to the gym, and plug-in for the duration of 1-2 episodes, while on the treadmill, stair climber or stationary bicycle.
No matter how good the show is, remember to hydrate and keep moving, to multitask valuable fitness miles into your weekly schedule. Hold the popcorn.
9. Use a Lawn Mower You Can Push
Lawn mowers today are so technologically advanced, they practically cut the lawn themselves, like self-driving vehicles. Unless you have a golf course sized property, a ride-on mower, or lawn cutting service may be depriving you of some valuable steps every week, and cardiovascular fitness opportunities. Mowing the law using a push mower, burns up to 306 calories per hour! Compare that to the calories you burn on a treadmill, and you’ll be impressed. It’s great exercise that involves multiple muscle groups, resistance and strength benefits and much more. It counts as an hour at the gym, and extra steps you can clock-in.
10. Cook at Home More Often
When we choose to eat out, we consume more calories with less exerted effort, because we are not responsible for the food preparation and cooking. If you want to see a big change in your daily steps, eat at home more often, and cook from scratch. Not only will your meals be more nutritious and well planned, but you’ll increase your steps and save money.
Individuals who are already fit, and who exercise daily, may find more value in using an accelerometer, rather than a pedometer. For instance, if you are getting 10,000 steps or more per day without effort, or increasing your cardiovascular exertion, you may be missing out on health benefits. An accelerometer measures forces of movement, and unlike a pedometer, will register activities such as yoga, stationary cycling, swimming or weight lifting.
When it comes to physical activity, more is more, provided your primary care provider has cleared you for a fitness program. Use 10,000 steps as the bare minimum that an average adult should achieve daily, and build up to 15,000 or 20,000 to improve wellness benefits, conditioning and fitness.
It’s not so hard when you get a fitness tracker. It actually starts to be pretty fun.