It’s my goal to hit 10,000 steps a day. Somedays I go way over, but most days (especially since I started a new desk job a few months ago) I’m under. Because of this, I’m always looking for ways to get more steps in during the day.
There’s tons of research on the benefits of standing over sitting and moving more. In the US we’re very sedentary and it’s taking a toll on our health. In fact, it’s estimated that billions of dollars could be shaved off healthcare costs in this country if people got in more exercise.
Walking is good for your heart, it lowers your cholesterol, blood sugar and more. There are definitely major benefits for getting in your steps. It doesn’t need to be 10,000, but that’s a good goal.
I’ve been looking for ways to fire up my steps and move more (especially because I’m trying to look good for my bestie’s wedding in a few weeks). Here are the things I’ve found that work if, especially if you feel like it’s a struggle to get in those steps.
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-Get a Tracker or Pedometer
I love my Apple Watch! Previously I had a Jawbone Up, which I also loved (until it broke for the fourth time). I have several friends who love their Fitbits. You can even pick up an inexpensive pedometer that hook to your belt or wrist. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Really, as much as I love my Apple Watch, at the end of the day the feature I use the most is the step counter (so it’s basically a glorified pedometer).
-Schedule Time to Walk
If you want to get more steps in, you’re going to need to take walks or workout regularly. On the days I run (every other day), I almost always hit my 10,000 steps. On the days I don’t run? Well, it’s a lot harder to hit my goal. You don’t need to run, but you probably need to schedule a regular time to get in some walks or other cardio.
-Take the Stairs
Whenever you have the option take the stairs. At the airport, don’t go for the “moving sidewalk” or the escalator. Opt for the stair. Now, if you work on the 20th floor of your building taking the stairs isn’t practical. BUT, if you’re opting for the elevator to go up a flight, perhaps reconsider and opt to get in more steppin’.
-Park Far Away
Somehow, no matter where I park in Milwaukee, someone always dings my doors. My Subaru is dented on both sides with little pings and dings. It breaks my heart actually (poor Bear–yes, that’s my Subaru’s name: Bear Grylls). So, whenever possible I park Bear as far away as I can. The added bonus is that it gets in some more steps too!
-Choose to Stand to Get More Steps
The next time you’re at a bar or waiting somewhere and there aren’t enough seats, offer to be the person who doesn’t mind standing. I used to be the first to snatch a seat on the bus, or subway (when I lived in NY), but you know what? Standing isn’t so bad and once you get used to it, you kind of start to hate sitting. To sit in the car for hours just kills me now!
I’ve been looking at standing desks and I’m in the process of getting one. Right now I use a makeshift platform with books and boxes to raise up my computer. I’m so excited to get a real standing desk! Standing desks make a huge difference because you’re able to improve your circulation, increase your steps (and it keeps you from falling asleep at work). Plus, sitting hurts your back, it’s great! I’m also going to get a gel mat to help with standing all the time. It’s a bit of an investment, but in the long run it’s not any more than an office chair and worth the benefits.
For the last few years I’ve used a yoga ball chair. This chair doesn’t necessarily improve your step count, but it’s a cheap way to get in some core work while you sit. Plus, the chair helps your posture and eases back pain, or at least that’s what it did for me. I love my yoga ball chair. I feel like sitting on it makes me more aware of my movement. I don’t slump down and forget I’m sitting for hours on end.
-Set a Timer for Walk Breaks
One trick I use at work is setting a timer for every two hours. I do this because sometimes I get really zoned in on work and forget to get up, move around or actually “do” things other than well, work. I write for a living and literally 4-6 hours can fly by without my remembering to get up. Setting a timer reminds me to get up, get something to drink and walk around for a bit.
-Take a Walking Lunch
Who spends an entire 30-60 minutes eating lunch? I mean, really-even if you have a very involved lunch that requires heating and preparation, I find it rarely takes longer than 10-15 minutes to eat. So taking a walk break at lunch helps you clear your head and re-focus. Plus, you’ll get a step boost. I love lunchtime walks.
-Stand During Calls
Since I write at work, i find it’s hard to type and stand at the same time. BUT it’s pretty easy to stand when I’m doing other things, like listening to conference calls, or doing research. During those easy tasks, I stand up and step in place or move around a little. This helps me focus too!
-Walk the Dog
Sam is the main dogwalker in our family, but I love going on walks with our three pugs too. Pugs are about the lowest-exercise-required dogs out there, and yet, our little guys LOVE going for walks. In fact, we have some very fit pugs (Tanka even goes for an occasional jog and can keep up for 1-2 miles). Walking the dogs more often keeps everyone happy and fit, myself included!
-Play a Game
If you have kids, playing games is pretty easy. Kids have endless energy and LOVE to run around (this is why, as a gym teacher, Sam has no problem cracking 15-20,000 steps a day). If you don’t have kids around, or your kids are too little for games, get your friends or spouse on board. Play frisbee, toss a ball, go for a hike–just PLAY! You’ll have fun and get in steps.
-Take an Evening Stroll
Every night Sam and I go for a walk after work. Sometimes it’s only around the block, but usually we walk downtown and around the neighborhood. We have a gorgeous creek in our town and it’s fun to walk along the banks of the river. When I lived in the city, I loved walking there too. Evening walks are great, and will help you boost your steps.
-Pick up the House
Getting in steps while you pick up the house is actually pretty easy. I rack up a bunch of steps while I cook (even in our tiny kitchen). When I need to get in a few extra steps to hit my target I try to pick up and put away one item at a time. Or I put away just a few laundry items and make several trips up and down the stairs.
During Free Time
-Walk to Your Errands
Walk to the library, the post office, the bank, the store. Of course, depending on how spread out your town is, walking your errands can be more or less of a challenge. We live in a pretty small town, where everything is close together. If your town is more spread out, you may want to park in a central location and then walk to each destination.
-Schedule Walks with Friends
The other night I went to dinner with a friend. After we walked around and talked (rather than sitting and eating dessert). Walking with friends is great because it gives you a chance to catch up and it’s fun. It’s cheap (free) and it’s healthy. The next time you want to catch up with your buddy ask them if you can go for a walk together.
-Sign up for a Charity Walk
There are a bazillion charity walk opportunities out there. Check out RunningintheUSA if you’re looking for some options in your neck of the woods. Pick a cause you’re passionate about, raise money or simply walk on the day of the event. Many charity walks have a running component, but you certainly can opt to walk most 5Ks and you won’t be alone. It feels great to be walking for a purpose!
-Clean Up Your Neighborhood/Yard
Follow the original Eco Running philosophy and do an eco walk around your neighborhood. Simply carry a trash bag with you on your walk and pick up and garbage you happen to see as you go. If your neighborhood really needs some cleanup, enlist some help and spend an hour or two picking up the area. You’ll get in your steps and beautify your community!
If you want to get in more steps, find volunteer opportunities to get you moving! Pick any cause you’re excited about, roll up your sleeves and get to work. There are so many volunteers needed out there–everything from helping a foodbank, to working with animals, children or the elderly. The great thing is, many of them will help you get more active without even realizing it! Volunteer today and get more steps for good!
As you can see there are TONS of ways to get in your steps. This is just the tip of the iceburg. What are your favorite ways to get moving? Do you have a secret to getting your step goal in by the end of the day?