We all know this one person who watches constantly at his or her smartwatch to say: “I have got to get my steps in today”. But, drilling it back: why should we care about our daily step count? Also, if you find yourself struggling – especially in the upcoming darker months, what can you do to get these in easily?
First, why do you need to up your step count? According to the NHS, most people in the UK achieve about 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day – which equals a distance between 1.5 and 2 miles. However, public advice differs and advises to move more to improve circulation, heart health, and maintain good physical health.
You may have heard that 10,000 steps are the minimum golden number to make a difference. In reality, the University of Massachusetts has recently proven that middle-aged people should walk about 7,500 steps a day to avoid premature death from all causes. Naturally, if taking more than 7,500 steps a day, you’ll still notice a difference, especially towards weight loss or your fitness journey but the rate of mortality tends to plateau.
If you don’t feel like walking – or can’t find the time for it, here are our tips:
Walk a dog
This should be easier if you have a dog, but don’t let this excuse get in the way. Take each opportunity you can walk your dog or use services like BorrowMyDog.com to walk someone else’s pet. It could just be a more meaningful way to get outside, plus you’ll most definitely enjoy the friendliest company.
Don’t wait in line
In the UK, it is very common to be stuck in a queue for longer than expected – this being waiting for your latte to be served in the local coffee shop, to pay for your groceries or to wait for the doctor to be available. Instead of sitting and endlessly scrolling through socials, stand up and walk. It might seem insignificant, but it can go a long way and every step counts!
Park further away… or don’t take the car, at all!
Although this might be a trickier habit to break, it works! Getting your daily steps might not mean going for a one-hour Nordic walk every day. The more you build a habit and try to change your routine, the easier it is going to be to fit it into your routine.
Let’s take an example: if you’re going shopping, try parking 500m or to the furthest end of the parking. Making the extra 200 steps will eventually hang in the balance. If you live closer to the city center or in the city center itself, try to walk everywhere instead. You’ll save on petrol while getting fitter on the way.
Stay comfy in your shoes
An illustration might perfectly illustrate this point. If you tend to walk but wear uncomfortable heels or very narrow shoes, you’ll less likely be tempted to walk more than 1 or 2 miles. Wearing comfortable trainers or adding insoles in your shoes could help absorb the overall load and reduce impact.
Schedule smaller chunks during the day
You don’t need to walk a full 10km after or before work every day to get your steps in. Instead, try scheduling smaller walks regularly throughout the day, so that it feels more manageable.
You may be able to walk 15-20 minutes in the morning with your coffee or tea in hand, enjoy the sunrise, and set yourself up for the day without jumping in too quickly in notifications, emails, and work. At lunch – even if you feel like you don’t have time, it might be possible to squeeze in a similar walk with a colleague. Getting outside at lunch might also help you to digest and get a proper break before coming back to your desk. At the end of the day, you’ll have done most of your daily requirements without impacting too much your personal life.
Phone a friend or family
Finally, walking doesn’t have to be a time fully connected to nature, hugging trees, looking at your pace, and watching the bird in the forest. If you are used to spending a lot of time in a tech environment or on your smartphone, it might be great to take some time off, but you can also: listen to a podcast, watch a video, listen to your favorite music, or even phone a friend or a family member. Two birds, one stone!