Finding ways to increase your daily step count can not only pace your day, but also have health benefits. Here are 7 tips. Setting up a calendar and reminders on the smartphone, as well as setting daily step goals, can help you increase your daily step count.
Many studies, especially over the past decade, have sounded the alarm about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, from compromising heart health and metabolism to risking death earlier. Even if you get the recommended amount of exercise, you may still face health risks associated with sitting too long.
So how many steps per day do you need? And how often should you take these steps?
Although it’s common to hear the recommendation to take at least 10,000 steps a day, this figure is actually not based on any research, this figure is actually from a Japanese pedometer manufacturer, who created this promotion in 1965 to extol the merits of his product. That said, taking a significant number of steps each day has many benefits, especially if you take them throughout the day and not all at once. The more steps you take, the less sedentary you are, which has a whole host of health benefits, from better cardiovascular function to improved mood and energy levels.
For example, previous research has shown consistent associations between walking and better cardiovascular health for people of all ages, whether they are healthy or have heart problems. Another study, published in August 2018 in the journal Health Promotion Perspectives, found that 10 minutes of brisk walking was enough to improve mood compared to inactivity.
A 2019 study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which analyzed data from more than 16,000 older women, found that those who took between 4,400 and 7,500 steps per day lived longer than women who took fewer steps. not only that (according to data from the four years of the study). Longevity benefits increased with step count, reaching a plateau at 7,500 steps per day. Along with the underlying health and mood benefits, increasing your step count can also help your overall fitness.
A good approach is to take shorter steps: Rather than trying to find time for a long daily walk, it’s actually more beneficial to take small sessions throughout the day
Here are some ideas for increasing your step count and getting into the rhythm of moving more:
1. Set daily goals
Setting goals can give you the extra boost you need when you’re feeling particularly stuck on your couch. It can be as simple as setting a new step goal each day. For example, take 200 more steps today than yesterday, then 200 more tomorrow, and so on. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, you can set goals based on time or distance. A 10-minute walk at lunchtime could thus become a 15-minute walk. Setting ambitious goals from the outset tends to backfire. Instead, think of it as doing a little more each day. Make it fun, treat it as a challenge, while keeping the goal realistic.
2. Go exploring, even if it’s in your neighborhood
You can explore the city or neighborhood where you are. Even in a very familiar neighborhood, it is possible to take more steps by taking the time to see the landscape in a new way.
Find new routes and walk down streets or along paths you’ve never seen before. You can even walk around your house several times and observe all the details of the plants, trees, sidewalks and landscaping around you.
3. Use reminders
When you’re lounging or sitting at a desk, it can be hard to remember to take a break, so ask your phone to do it for you. There are several free apps that remind you to move. You can also schedule a few daily 15-minute “meetings” on your calendar. With consistency, you can get to a point where moving more and incorporating steps into your day is as natural as brushing your teeth, it’s just what you do to stay healthy. »
4. Park at the end of the lot
This is common advice, but one worth repeating. Depending on where you shop, the parking lot can be quite spacious, allowing you to take several steps there and back. You can also consider doing your errands on foot instead of driving. And if you can walk in nature or along a natural site, your well-being will be enhanced.
Even in urban areas, the presence of trees and grass, or other natural elements, has been shown to increase physical activity, improve mental health, and even boost the immune system. He co-authored a study published in March 2019 in Lancet Public Health, which suggests that greater use of green spaces is so powerful that it should be considered a public health intervention.
5. Cultivate distractions
Being pleasantly distracted this way while you take steps is a great strategy for prolonging your activity longer than you otherwise would. Need to make calls for work (that aren’t video calls)? Stand up and take a few steps as you pass them. Rather than checking in on a friend while you’re sitting at home or waiting in line, arrange to call when you need to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, or walk your dog—any task that doesn’t does not require great mental concentration. You can also queue up an engaging audiobook or podcast for a long (or short) walk.
6. Be competitive
Making it a friendly competition might prove even more effective, as research suggests. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in September 2019 found that people increased their physical activity more effectively when they collaborated with friends and co-workers to achieve a collective goal or measured themselves against each other, than when they did it alone. Competition with other people even increased the number of steps several months after the end of the initial intervention.
The strategies offered here may seem simple and easy to implement, and that’s the point. Stepping up should be built in throughout the day, in small nudges that keep you going on your to-do list and living your life.