Are you trying to get your 10,000 steps in today? Today, the media, health professionals, and even our fancy fitness bands tell us to aim for that universal 10,000 steps per day goal. But where did this number come from? And is it the right goal for you?
The 10,000 steps per day goal can be traced to Japan in the 1960s around the time of the Tokyo Olympics. During that time there was an increased focus on fitness. To capitalize on this, a Japanese company created a pedometer they called “Manpo-Kei”, which literally translates to “10,000 steps”. The pedometer was adopted by Japanese walking clubs and thus the 10,000 steps per day goal was born.
Is this goal still relevant today? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 30 min each day during a 5 day work week. The average person takes about 6,000 steps per day doing daily activities. It takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps for a brisk 30 min walk. So it appears that a regular day of work, school, and home life combined with a brisk walk each day is a good match for the CDC’s recommendations.
Keep in mind that step counts vary greatly from person to person so the number of steps you take each day may be different. My suggestion, if you are trying to better your health through more physical activity, get a pedometer or fitness band to track the average number of steps you take during a regular day. Then find ways to beat that number each week. A brisk walk, especially outdoors, is a great way. But there are so many other options as well. Below I list several ways to get extra steps in your day. Feel free to pick one to try it out. Remember, the only wrong way to get started is to not start at all. So let’s get walking!
- Take a walk while waiting to pick your child up from school, soccer practice, piano lessons, etc.
- Keep a water bottle by the office water cooler so you have to walk over there to get a drink.
- Place your phone in another room so you have to get up each time you want to change the send a text.
- March in place or pace around during phone calls or during TV commercials.
- Go for a walk on your lunch break with a coworker and after dinner each night with your family or a neighbor.
- Walk to the furthest restroom in your office or whatever public venue you are at.
- Park farther away than you usually do at the mall or grocery store.
- Walk a lap around the mall or grocery store before you start shopping.
- Propose a walking meeting at work instead of sitting in the conference room.
- Next time you’re at a theater performance or sporting event, walk around at intermission instead of remaining in your seat.
- Walk to the convenient store a couple blocks away to pick up milk instead of driving there.
- Instead of meeting a friend for happy hour, go for a walk at the nearest park to catch up.
- Run errands during your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk.
- Instead of calling, walk to your coworker’s desk or work area.
- Get competitive: challenge a coworker or friend to see who can complete more steps in a week. The winner buys the other lunch!
- Get off the bus one stop sooner and walk the rest of the way.
- Never take the elevator or escalator.
- Set hourly walking reminders on your phone or computer.
- Take a dance class or have a dance party with your kids or friends.
- Skip the drive-thru at the bank, pharmacy or restaurant and walk inside instead.
- 21. Walk on the treadmill or follow a walking workout video on YouTube if it’s dark or unsafe to walk outside.
- 22. Go pick up your lunch instead of ordering takeout.