Regular physical activity comes with a host of health benefits
You may have heard the recommendation to walk 10,000 steps each day. It’s a good goal for someone just getting started. To meet it, track your steps and gradually increase over a period of time.
Try to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can manage 10,000. So if you currently average 3,000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3,500 per day. Increase your week two goal to 4,000 a day. If you continue to increase by 500 steps each week, you should hit 10,000 a day steps by the end of 14 weeks.
Why 10,000? The origin can be traced back to the 1960s. Japanese marketing execs chose that number to sell pedometers. The idea gained popularity with Japanese walking groups. Later studies suggest people who increased their walking to 10,000 steps daily experience health benefits.
One study found women who increased their step count to nearly 10,000 steps a day reduced their blood pressure after 24 weeks. Another study of overweight women found who walked 10,000 steps a day improved their blood sugar levels. And the American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Most experts say 10,000 steps a day is a good number to reach, but any amount of activity beyond what you’re currently doing will boost your health. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity (such as brisk walking) a week. To meet this recommendation, you’d need to walk only 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll need to bump up to 12,000 to 15,000 steps per day. . Children ages 6 to 12 need more activity and should get closer to 12,000 steps a day; adults older than 65 will be fine with a little less than 10,000 steps each day.
Whether you aim for 8,000, 10,000 or 15,000 steps a day, you should shoot for a mix of active walking, the kind you do when you circle the track at the local high school, and incidental walking, which is what you do when you’re doing housework. Try these strategies to get your 10,000 (which is about 5 miles, by the way) steps in every day:
Fly a kite with your children or grandchildren.
Walk up and down the aisles at the store.
Window shop at the mall.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Walk in place while doing dishes, cooking, brushing your teeth or standing in line.
Park far away from your work and shopping—at the end of the parking lot or on another street.
Walk instead of driving anywhere that is within a mile or two.
Take your dog for a walk.
When you take restroom breaks, walk around the entire house or building on your way to the restroom.
March in place while watching TV.
Go for a stroll during your lunch break.
Walk your children to the bus stop.
Get off the train a couple of stops before where you live and walk home.
Go for a nightly after-dinner walk with the family.
Walk around the soccer field while your child is playing.