Numerous studies, especially over the past decade, have been sounding the alarm on the dangers of being sedentary, from compromising heart health and metabolism to risking earlier death.
Even if you’re getting the amount of exercise recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (and several other health groups), you may still face health risks associated with too much sitting, research shows.
So how many steps per day do you need and how frequently do you need to be taking those steps?
Although it’s common to hear the recommendation to get 10,000 steps per day at a minimum, that number isn’t actually based on any research.
That said, getting a large number of steps daily will be beneficial for your health, especially if you get them throughout the day instead of all in one big session.
The more steps you take, the less sedentary you are, and that brings a range of health advantages, from better cardiovascular function to improved mood and energy levels.
For example, past research has shown consistent associations between walking and better cardiovascular health for people of any age.
Here are some ideas to boost your step count and get into the rhythm of moving more:
1. Set Daily Goals
Using goal setting can give you extra motivation to help get you going.
This could be as easy as setting a new step count goal every day. For example, get just 200 more steps today than you did yesterday, then add 200 more tomorrow, and so on. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, you can set goals based on time or distance. Maybe a 10-minute walk at lunch becomes 15 minutes.
Be mindful to make these goals realistic or it may have the opposite effect.
2. Go Exploring
Find new routes and walk down streets or along trails you haven’t seen before. You can even walk around the perimeter of your house a few times.
3. Use Reminders
When you’re in the midst of lounging or sitting at a desk, it can be tough to remember to take a walking break, so have your phone do it for you. There are several free apps geared toward reminding you to get moving.
You want to create good habits, so it becomes like brushing your teeth.
4. Park At The Far End Of The Car Park
This is a common tip, but it bears repeating. Depending on where you’re shopping, the car park can be quite spacious, making it easy to get in quite a few steps both coming and going. Or consider walking to do your errands instead of taking the car in the first place. If you can walk in or along somewhere with nature, that’s another boost for your well-being.
5. Cultivate Distractions
Being pleasantly distracted in this way while you’re getting steps in is a great strategy for extending your activity more than you might otherwise. Need to make calls for work? Get on your feet and get in a few steps while you take them. Rather than catching up with a friend while you’re sitting at home or waiting in line, arrange to call when you have to do the laundry, clean the kitchen or walk your dog, any task that doesn’t require much mental focus. Or consider queuing up a compelling audiobook or podcast for a walk.
6. Cultivate Distractions
Making it into a friendly competition could be even more powerful. Studies have found that people were more effective at increasing physical activity when collaborating with friends and colleagues for a collective goal or competing against one another compared with just doing it on their own.
The strategies here might seem easy and simple, that’s the point. Getting more steps should be integrated throughout your day, in short bursts that allow you to still tackle your to-do list and live your life. For more information on how to increase your step count, please feel free to contact us today at David Jones Personal Training.