It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Walking has numerous benefits — it can help you clear your mind after a long day, and it’s one form of exercise that can help you maintain a healthy weight.
“Regular brisk walks can help you stay fit and healthy by preventing heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes,” says Mallory Hammer, health and wellness associate at Geisinger. “If you’re walking at a brisk pace, you should be breathing harder than normal, but still able to speak in full sentences.”
How to get your steps in
Whether you’re just looking to improve your overall health, or you’re aiming for that 10,000 steps per day goal, getting there is easy. Here are some ways to get extra steps in:
If you haven’t been exercising regularly, now is as good a time as any to start. Start by adding more steps each day, gradually. Make your goals small and easily attainable, and then when you’re comfortable, increase the number. Even walking for just 15 minutes a day adds up.
Take the stairs
If you work in a multi-floor office building, you’re out shopping for the day or you’re just running errands, take the stairs when you can. They’ll likely be less crowded than escalators and elevators, and you’ll increase your heart rate and work large muscles in your legs, which help your whole body burn more calories.
Hold a walking meeting
If you sit at a desk for most of your workday, ask colleagues to meet you for a “walking meeting” instead of booking a conference room. You’ll benefit from the change of scenery, and the extra steps. Participating in multiple conference calls alone in your office? Pace around your office and do stretches while you attend the meeting.
Park further away
We all want to find the closest parking spot no matter where we drive. But to get more steps in, look at those massive parking lots in a new light: a way to challenge yourself and increase your steps.
Choose a parking spot near the outer edge of the grocery store or mall lot and force yourself to walk the extra steps to get there. If you are carrying groceries, for example, you’ll get some light lifting in, too. Your arms will look great!
Set hourly reminders
Studies show that it’s best to take short breaks while working to stay focused and even retain information. So, what better way to fill that break than with a short walk?
“By setting reminders you might find yourself being more productive throughout the day because you got your body moving while giving your mind a rest,” she adds.
Don’t go it alone
Walking with a buddy can make things more fun and keep you motivated. You can also get the whole family involved. Walking the dog together or going on a hike are great ways to get everyone moving more.
Invest in a fitness tracker
Wearing a fitness tracker, whether it’s a smart watch, app or an old-fashioned pedometer is a great way to not just track your steps, but to add more into your day. Fitness trackers allow you to set daily step goals and hourly movement reminders. Some trackers give you the ability to look back to see how many steps you’re averaging each day, week or month.
If that’s not reason enough to try to get more steps in during your day, you may also be encouraged by a wellness program at work that promotes use of fitness trackers.
Follow the mile rule
If where you’re going is under a mile away, you can add steps to your day by walking to your destination. Whether it’s work, school or a trip to your dentist, if it’s nearby, put some comfortable shoes on and give yourself extra time to walk. Just remember to stick to the sidewalks and walk in well-lit areas if it’s dark.
No matter what your health goals are, adding more steps into your day is a great way to get there. Remember to talk with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Happy stepping!