Can walking 10,000 steps a day be the key to losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight? Possibly! Read on to find out why.
Whether you are just starting to build your fitness habit or are a more advanced exerciser, a regular walking program offers so many incredible health and fitness benefits!
Increasing your daily step count can help you stay more active when you are not already working out, or to get you moving more often to spark up a new exercise habit. Even if you have been exercising routinely for years, it may not be enough to combat the ill effects of hours of sitting, so adding more steps to your day can be not only beneficial for your waistline, but for your overall health too.
Walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. (1)
Walking may reduce your risk of developing dementia and cancer. (2)
Walking can help reduce fibromyalgia pain. (2)
And, walking may be even more beneficial for your body than running since walkers have a much lower risk of exercise-related injuries than runners, whose legs absorb about 100 tons of impact force during just one single mile of running! (3)
Even if you exercise daily for an hour, it’s not enough to prevent if you sit for long periods of time during the day, which is why a daily step goal can be so beneficial to keeping you up and moving during the rest of your day. (4)
By now, you’ve probably heard this general, “take 10,000 steps a day” recommendation, and while it might be a good goal for aim for, it may not be the best place to start.
Recent research says the average adult walks about 5,900 steps a day, with many of us coming in way under that. Instead of suddenly just doubling your daily steps, simply try adding in about 500 extra steps a day, increasing slowly each week to gradually build into more activity and work your way up to 10,000.
Not sure how to track your steps? You can measure your steps a few different ways:
By Time: 15 minutes at a brisk pace is roughly 1 mile (this is of course a general estimate, since everyone’s stride lengths differ exact mileage may vary).
By Steps: 10,000 steps is the approximate equivalent of 5 miles, so count 2,000 steps as 1 mile.
With a Tracking Device: A pedometer or activity tracker can help you tally up your daily count, so if you decide to use one try designating a few times each day to check it so make sure you are on task for your goal. This can help prevent obsessing too much over the number or forgetting to check it until the end of the day when you may feel pressured to catch up to your goal all at once.
One thing to keep in mind with trackers however, is that most are designed to measure straight forward strides only (and one study found that many can be off by as much as 30 percent!), which means if you use one for an indoor walking workout, for instance, your step count may not be completely accurate as you may be moving more in place, side to side, etc. You don’t have to spend a fortune on the latest tracker a budget fitness tracker will do just a good of a job for half the price or possibly even less.
10,000 steps can seem daunting if you are starting out with a much lower daily count, and it’s not always easy to fit in extra steps, especially if the weather won’t cooperate or you only have free walking time very early or late in the day! So if you need extra help reaching your goals, be sure to check out our “Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles” DVD that includes 5 varied mile walks plus two bonus routines – the “Strong Feet and Ankles Workout” and the “Strong Knees and Hips Routine” to help you walk strong and pain free for years to come!
What about other forms of exercise? Is 10,000 steps a day all you need to stay fit?
Does this mean that simply walking 10,000 steps a day means you can stop working out? It depends on where you are in your fitness journey. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, increasing your daily steps can be a great way to build your fitness level and ease into an exercise habit.
But once you feel ready to keep challenging your body, be sure to start including other cross training activities like resistance training (to help combat the loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging), stretching (to improve your range of motion and help prevent injury) and other forms of cardiovascular activity (interval training, for example, can help your produce more of the anti-aging human growth hormone) to keep your body in top shape.
Want a walking plan that can help you reach all of those goals? Be sure to check out our “Walk On: 21 Day Weight Loss Plan” a complete low impact program that includes strength training, standing abs conditioning, interval training and even flexibility and relaxation techniques – all in the form of fun, walking based workouts!