The number 10,000 has been widely publicized as the ideal number of steps you should take in one day to stay fit. However, some say the number is completely arbitrary and has no basis in science. My health insurance provider is one of the entities to embrace the number. The company offers a small financial reward to its clients who reach that goal each day.
I had recently been promising myself that I needed to get more exercise – any exercise at all, actually, as I live a sedentary life. After grumbling that 10,000 was not even remotely possible for me to achieve, I decided to try to achieve it. (I confess that part of the reason was stubbornness. Yes, I genuinely wanted to get more exercise – but no health insurance company was going to get the best of me!)
Wow, was it not easy. I bought the fitness tracker and started wearing it every day. I started out very slowly, trying to increase my steps a little bit each day. It took me a solid month to be able to work up to 10,000 steps a day. The first time I hit the 10,000 mark, I fist bumped my dog and squealed, “A dolla makes me holla!”
Along the way, I discovered some tricks. Not cheating. I don’t cheat. Just… tricks.
When I first started out, I envisioned walking 10,000 steps a day to involve special shoes, spending hours outdoors, and sweating a lot. However, once I began walking more and tracking my steps, I discovered a lot of ways to get in extra steps during the day that don’t require getting a sunburn.
Here are 6 ways I have discovered to get in 10,000 steps a day:
1. Swing that arm: Make sure the arm you wear your fitness tracker on is swinging when you are walking. That’s how your steps are tracked – the motion of your arm triggers the tracker. If you wear your tracker on your left wrist, for example, make sure you are carrying things in your right hand so your left arm is free to swing.
2. Walk in place: There’s nothing in the 10,000 steps rule book that says you have to step forward. March in place – in your kitchen, in front of the TV, in the restroom, wherever you want. You can also do some variations on walking in place. Try some kicks or knee lifts. Or step out to the side for two steps and then back in for two steps – out, out, in, in. As long as you are triggering your fitness tracker by swinging your arm, anything works.
3. Walk in weird places. Do you have a long hallway at your office? Walk up and down the hallway. Pretend you have urgent business with a co-worker at the other end of the building. This works best if you are not walking past a lot of desks. You don’t want to disturb your co-workers as they are working. If you are at home, walk up and down your hallway there. Or make a loop through the kitchen, dining room, and living room.
4. Walk often. If you have been sitting for at least an hour, get up. Walk around your office or your house a bit. Taking shorter trips more frequently means you won’t have to take as many steps at one time to reach your goal.
5. Don’t carry more than one thing at a time: Say you’re at the office and you need to go fill up your water bottle and then grab something from the printer. Don’t go fill up your water bottle and then grab something from the printer. Go fill up your water bottle and take it back to your desk. Then go grab something from the printer and take it back to your desk. Two trips instead of one. You’ve just increased your steps!
6. Your everyday shoes are probably fine. Unless you’re going to be walking long distances or on rough terrain, the shoes you normally wear each day will probably be just fine for your 10,000 steps. I wear sandals a lot in the summer and have even been able to reach my walking goal while wearing flip-flops. (Yeah, it’s a little noisy.)
Being able to walk 10,000 steps each day has made a difference in my stamina. I can now walk up one flight of stairs without collapsing. I am confident that as I keep at it, I will notice more physical benefits. Mostly, I feel good about myself for setting a fitness goal and being able to reach it.
Believe me, if I can reach 10,000, you can reach 10,000. If you can hit that number right now, great. If it takes you longer to work up to it, like it did me, that’s great too. Every little bit gets you there. If you have any tips that are working for you, please let us know!