It’s not hard to increase your daily physical activity. Just take it step by step—literally. Walking at a brisk pace, the average person takes about 100 steps per minute. Depending on your speed and length of stride, you’ll cover a mile in about 20 minutes, and burn 80 to 100 calories in the process. A study in the journal Obesity showed that women over age 40 who increased their daily activity by 3520 steps (a little over 1.5 miles of walking) lost 5 pounds over the course of a year without changing their eating habits. They also reduced their belly fat by 12 percent.
How many steps do you need?
Ten thousand steps per day is often mentioned as the ideal goal, but there’s nothing special about this number. Here’s a fun fact: When pedometers were first sold in Japan in the 1960s, they were marketed under the name ‘manpo-kei,’ which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’ and the number has stuck ever since. The rationale behind increasing your daily steps is that any amount of added regular walking is a good complement to your daily fitness routine. Therefore, counting steps is a good way to track it. Plus, short walks throughout the day help undo the havoc wreaked on our bodies by endless hours of sitting.
No-sweat tips for taking more steps
So, what are you waiting for? Strap on that pedometer and get walking. Here are a few fun ways to up your steps when you’re at home, at work, or just out and about.
• Walk around the house while you’re on the phone.
• March in place while you brush your teeth.
• Walk your children to and from school.
• Do yard work such as raking leaves, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow.
• Take your dog for a walk. (Borrow your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one of your own.)
• Download Pokemon Go on your phone and play it with your kids.
• Take an after dinner stroll with a neighbor or family member.
• Carry your grocery bags in from the car one at a time.
• Park and walk inside the drug store or restaurant rather than using the drive through window.
• Use a restroom on a different floor than your office.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever you can.
• Walk to a coworker’s desk to deliver a message rather than send an e-mail.
• Take a walk at lunchtime rather than eating at your desk.
• Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
• Set an alarm on your computer to remind you to stretch and take a quick walk around the office every hour or two.
Out and about
• Park at the opposite end of the parking lot from the entrance of the building.
• Take an extra lap around the perimeter of the grocery store or shopping mall.
• Walk around the building or the block when you’re waiting for an appointment.
• Schedule an outing with friends to shop and explore in a new neighborhood.
• Add some friendly competition with apps that let you post your progress on social media.
So, let’s recap
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. But, many people fall short of meeting even this modest goal. A good way to complement your regular fitness routine and increase your weekly exercise quota is to add extra steps to your day whenever you can. There are plenty of fun, easy things you can try from marching in place while you brush your teeth to taking the stairs rather than the elevator at work.