Everybody needs to move their feet. Walking can improve your blood circulation, protect your heart, reduce pain and improve your mood. According to several studies, people who walk every day spend less time in the hospital, have lower blood pressure and feel less depressed.
If you want to burn calories, you probably need to kick things up a notch to brisk walking, but even going for a calm, relaxed walk is good for you. How many steps should you aim for every day?
“Are You Serious … 10,000 Steps?!”
Many health professionals recommend reaching about 10,000 steps a day. That equals about 5 miles. If you feel a little shocked, you’re not alone. Most Americans only walk 3,000–4,000 steps on average, or around 2 miles.
Good news! A recent study says that you’re OK aiming for between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day. It’s that 7,000-step marker that’s really important for your heart and your health.
Keep in mind that counting the steps you take looks at your physical activity throughout the day. It includes walking from place to place at work, walking around the store when you’re shopping for groceries and doing activities at home.
The Benefits of Walking More
Any physical exercise has a positive effect on your health, but hitting that range of 7,000–10,000 steps a day can make a major impact:
- Lower risk of heart problems
- Reduced risk of developing diabetes
- Lower overall weight
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Reduced risk of stroke
All of these benefits add up. People who walk every day are nearly 40% less likely to die compared to people who live a sedentary lifestyle.
Tips for Upping Your Step Count
You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to meet your step count goals. Here are a few tips for success:
- Use a comfy pair of shoes: Walking shoes can help you enjoy your exercise more. The happier your feet are, the more likely you’ll get into a walking routine.
- Set smaller goals: You don’t have to reach your magical number from one day to another. If you’re hitting 4,000 a day this week, aim for 5,000 a day next week.
- Walk at work: Visit co-workers in person instead of sending emails or calling their extension. Physical activity does you good.
- Go for a walk after lunch: Instead of heading back to your desk right away after lunch, take advantage of your time to go for a short walk outside. Plus, the fresh air is good for mental focus and mood in the afternoon.
Ways To Stay Active During Cold Months
What if you can’t spend much time outdoors because of freezing temps? Instead of counting 7,000–10,000 steps, focus on doing moderate exercise for 150–300 minutes a week (20–40 minutes a day). Riding a bike, jumping rope, vacuuming your house, using an elliptical trainer and following a dance routine are examples of moderate-intensity exercise you can do at home. Remember that the main goal is just to increase your heart rate and get your muscles working!