You have probably heard that 10000 is the magic number when it comes to how many steps you should walk per day. That might seem almost impossible to achieve, especially for those of us with sedentary jobs.
We explore the benefits of taking 10000 steps per day and give you some tips to make hitting your goal seem like a walk in the park!
Why 10000 Steps a Day?
The idea of 10000 steps per day originated from a popular Japanese marketing campaign in the 1960s, and there’s a lot of debate about whether this is actually the ideal number of steps. Some research shows that whilst increasing your step count improves life expectancy, 7000 steps will do the job.
However, it completely depends on you as an individual and what your goals are. For example, if you are walking to lose weight, it would make sense to set yourself a higher target than the bare minimum. The number of calories burned will vary from person to person, but if you have a smartphone or a wearable fitness tracker, it will likely have a handy little function to calculate this for you. If not, there’s many activity and calorie calculators available online, such as this one from Bupa.
No matter what your calorie burn is, weight loss with 10000 steps a day will be greater than weight loss with 7000 steps a day.
What Are the Benefits of 10000 Steps a Day?
According to the UK government, adults should try to be active every day and complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Walking is a great activity for almost all adults because it’s low impact and can be adapted to suit a range of fitness levels.
Some of the many benefits include:
- Reduced risk of illnesses such as strokes, type 2 diabetes and cancer, as well as an increase in life expectancy.
- Better mental health: Endorphins from exercise are excellent mood boosters and stress busters, even more so if you have taken a nature walk!
- Weight loss or maintenance: Whether you want to get in shape or stay in shape, staying active with regular walks can help you to smash your goals.
- It’s a gateway to other exercise: Walking can be a brilliant exercise on its own and you may not want to do anything else, but if you’re dreaming of becoming the next Mo Farah or if you’re recuperating from an injury, walking can help you to maintain and boost your fitness levels until you’re ready to take the next steps.
How to Walk 10000 Steps a Day
10000 steps a day roughly equates to 5 miles, depending on your stride length. When you look at it like that, it can seem daunting! However, you don’t need to do them all in one go, you can do steps little and often. In fact, research from the British Heart Foundation shows that sitting for long periods of time can be bad for both physical and mental health so it’s a good idea to try to spread your activity out throughout the day.
This could mean investing in a standing desk. As well as being good for your posture, you can practice walking on the spot whilst you type (it’s not always as easy as it looks but you get the hang of it!). Many people march on the spot whilst watching their favourite television programme or brushing their teeth.
You can set a reminder on your smartphone, watch or alarm clock to remind you to get up and move every hour.
If you currently spend your lunch break idly phone-scrolling, you could use half of your break to take a brisk walk instead. Why not get your colleagues involved too?
There are many ways you can add extra steps into your day without it feeling like a huge effort and moving regularly throughout the day as well as going for regular walks should help you to smash your step count.
If you currently have a low step count, increasing to 10000 steps can seem like a big leap. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go from 500 steps to 10000 overnight, you can build up slowly. For example, try adding on 1000-2000 steps every week or fortnight and build up from there.
If you are motivated by rewards, Strava is a great app to sign up to. As well as being able to track all your walks, you can enter a wide range of challenges and fill your digital trophy cabinet with medals for each one that you complete.
If real medals are more your bag, why not set yourself a long-term goal by signing up to a walking challenge? Not only will it give you something to aim for, but receiving a shiny medal for the first time feels like a real achievement. (We warn you though, this can be addictive!)
5 Tips for Walking 1000 Steps a Day
As well as deciding how to fit in 10000 steps a day, there are some practicalities to consider when considering going for a walk. Our tips to set yourself up for success are:
- If you invest in one thing, make it a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers, your feet will thank you for it.
- You are most likely already aware that British weather mostly consists of rain, rain and more rain, followed by three days of summer before more rain. Unless you are doing a treadmill walk indoors, make sure you have the right clothes to keep you warm, cool and dry.
- Do some warm-up exercises and stretches. Start off slowly before building up any pace to avoid injury.
- If walking alone, it’s a good idea to let somebody know the route you plan to take and roughly how long it should take, and you should consider using some of the many safety features available on apps and devices now. For example, if you are using Strava for the shiny rewards, it also has a handy safety feature which allows you to give access to a trusted family member or friend to track you along your route in real time. If you suddenly stop or veer off course, they’ll know about it!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you drink too much water just before you go out, you might end up with a stitch so sip water regularly throughout the day.
There are a lot of mental and physical health benefits to walking and setting yourself a target step count to aim for can really make a difference to your motivation levels which in turn will help you to form healthy new habits.
Don’t forget the most important thing which is to relax and enjoy yourself! Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore so embrace it. Plan new routes, find local beauty spots, walk with a friend…. Find what works for you and get into your stride!