In the last decade, numerous studies have warned of the dangers of being sedentary. These range from heart disease and metabolic disorders to an increased risk of premature death.
Research suggests that even if you get the recommended amount of exercise from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other health organizations, you could still be at risk for health problems associated with sitting too much.
How many steps a day are you supposed to take? How often should you be walking?
According to Bruce Bailey, Ph.D. professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 10,000 steps a day or less is based on something other than research. According to the Harvard Medical School, the number was created in 1965 by a Japanese pedometer maker to promote its product.
He says that a high number of daily steps can have many benefits, mainly if they are spread out throughout the day rather than in one extensive session.
He says that the more you walk, the less you sit down. This has various benefits, including improved cardiovascular function, better mood, and increased energy.
Past research, for example, has consistently shown that walking is associated with better cardiovascular health in people of all ages. A 2018 study found that 10 minutes of brisk walking was more mood-boosting than being inactive.
In a study published in 2019, the researchers analyzed the data of more than 16 000 older women. They found that women who took between 4,400 to 7,500 steps a day lived longer than women taking fewer steps (according to the data collected over four years)—the benefits of increased efforts for longevity plateaued at 7,500 degrees a day.
More steps can also improve your overall fitness.
Jennifer Ashton, MD, challenged herself to increase her daily foot traffic over a month after realizing that her step count was paltry. In her book The self-care solution: a year of Becoming Happier, healthier, and Fitter — One Month at a Time, she chronicles her experience.
In the book, Dr. Ashton writes, “Four weeks of walking consistently had completely transformed my appearance and feeling.” “I was always energetic, but the extra movement and less sitting boosted my energy by at least 25%. “At the same time, walking made me feel calmer. It was like a form of movement meditation.”
It’s better to do short bursts throughout the day than to take a long walk every day. This is according to Kourtney T. Thomas, CSCS, a fitness trainer based in St Louis.
She suggests that you make “move more” your mantra. If you make this a daily habit, you will be amazed at how many more steps you can achieve without putting in that much extra effort.
Here are some tips to get you moving more and increase your daily steps:
Set daily goals
Thomas suggests that setting goals can help you get the extra boost you need when you feel stuck on your couch.
It could be as simple as setting new daily step goals. You could add 200 steps to your daily total today, then 200 tomorrow, etc. Thomas suggests that you can still set goals by time or distance if you don’t own a fitness tracker. A 10-minute lunchtime walk could become 15 minutes.
Thomas says that setting huge goals too soon can backfire. Thomas says to think of it as doing more every day. Seeing it as an adventure can be fun but still have a realistic goal.
Explore your neighborhood, even if it’s only a few blocks away.
Ashton describes how she increased her steps while exploring and traveling to new places. You can still explore, no matter where you are – in a city, a country, or just walking around your neighborhood. You can get more steps by looking at your area differently, even if it is familiar.
Explore new paths and trails. Even if you walk around your home a few times, take the time to notice the different plants, trees, and sidewalks.
Remembering to get up and move around when sitting or lounging can be challenging. Let your phone remind you. You can download several apps that will remind you to move.
Consider options such as Stand up! Randomly remindMe and Take a Break. Set up 15-minute “meetings.”
Thomas says, “You want to create a beneficial habit so it becomes automatic.” With consistency, you will get to a point where earning more steps and moving around in your daily routine is as natural as cleaning your teeth. “It’s what you do to keep healthy.”
Park at the far end of the lot
Thomas says this is a tip everyone knows, but it’s worth repeating. The parking lot at your shopping destination may be spacious. This allows you to walk a reasonable distance, both going and coming. Consider walking instead of driving to run your errands. If you can walk with nature or in a natural setting, this will boost you that suggested more effective use of green space is so powerful it should be considered a public health intervention. He co-authored a study published in 2019, which meant that greater use of green spaces is so powerful that it should be viewed as a public health intervention.
Thomas says being pleasantly distracted while getting in can be a great way to extend your activity. Do you need to make work calls? Take a few steps as you walk.
Instead of catching up on a friend’s life while sitting at home, waiting in line, or doing the laundry, call them when you need to clean the kitchen or walk the dog. Consider putting on an audiobook or podcast to listen to while you’re out for a walk.
Ashton’s book notes that they were eager to participate when she told her family, friends, and colleagues about the step challenge. This turned her step challenge into a group effort.
Research suggests that turning it into a friendly contest could have even more significant benefits. A report published in 2019 found that individuals were more likely to increase their physical activity by working together or competing with one another than when they did so alone. Competing with others increased step counts even months after the intervention ended.