Getting to 10,000 steps a day might sound a little intimidating, especially if you don’t know quite how that breaks down to miles or feet. It’s extra abstract when you learn that the average person walks only about 5,000 steps a day the U.S., as compared with 9,650 in Switzerland or 9,700 in Australia, according to a Business Insider study. A 10,000 daily commitment might seem like a lot from that frame of reference, but maybe you hadn’t realized you might already hitting that 5,000 on average.
Why’s it important to aim for 10,000 steps? With about 2,000 steps per mile, five miles burns you an average of 500 calories a day. And while these steps are not intended to replace a workout routine, they definitely supplement one, and get you through the days when you don’t make it to the gym.
Hitting 10,000 steps a day boosts heart health, and promotes healthy lifestyle choices. And although there isn’t anything magical about the number 10,000, somehow it gives us a greater satisfaction than another arbitrary number like 7,000 or 8,000.
Here are 7 simple ways to get your 10,000 steps each day:
- Park farther away when you go shopping. Not only does this get you loads of steps, but it also saves time. Really, it’s almost shameful how much time you spend circling parking lots if you think about it. Save yourself the time, and the gas! And if you’re parking somewhere within walking distance of another place you have to hit, keep the car where it is and walk to the next stop.
- Extra laps at the grocery store. Either take an extra lap to check for items you missed, or fill your cart up out of order. If you pick search for your items in alphabetical order, for example, you’ll get at least 1,500 steps in.
- Walk to any destination within a mile. Whether you’re bar hopping or errand hopping, a mile will take you 20 minutes or less to walk. About 12 city blocks equal a mile, and many of your regular destinations are within that radius.
- Walk your dog more. The truth is, the pup probably needs it, too! Depending on your dog’s level of fitness, you could even get half your daily steps in with an hour-long walk. Though that depends on how much sniffing delay there is…
- Take that next work meeting on the go. If you can take a call on your cell for the next phone conference, leave your desk and take a walk. Be sure it’s not a call where you need to take lots of notes—you know the kind I’m talking about. But you also know the kind of meetings you could take a walk for!
- Always commit to a walk after a meal. This one’s a double win! With just a 20-minute walk you can get in 2,000 steps, and it also aids digestion.
- Head to the bathroom that’s farther away. Whether at home or at work, you can use the bathroom that’s a little further away. These extra steps add up, especially if you’re drinking as much water as you should be (and taking a few extra bathroom visits a day because of it).
A 10,000-step commitment is a lot for most people, especially anyone hovering around or under the national average of 5,000 a day. Try working up by 500 steps a time—or three city blocks. This habit is much easier to build than you might think, and once the little habits are set they consistently add up to keep you healthy. You can easily enjoy all the benefits of hitting this simple goal.
Commitment is a big part of this, especially for some of these little habits that you can talk yourself out of in the bigger picture. If you really have to get to the bathroom fast and can’t go to the far one, okay—it’s not the end of the world. But just as easily as these little habits add up to a whopping five-miles a day, they can also chip away pretty quickly. Remind yourself why you’re committed to 10,000 steps a day, and keep your motivations front-of-mind!
Go the extra mile
So, you could take this advice literally and walk 12,000 steps instead of 10,000, or you could make those 10,000 steps work double for you. By walking at a higher intensity, your heart rate picks up and you burn calories faster. You also give your cardiovascular system an extra boost that encourages the very heart health you’re probably aiming for.
And, of course, by walking at a higher intensity you’re also getting through your steps more efficiently. As much as you might enjoy getting some of these steps in…you might enjoy getting through them quicker some days, too.