We all know that number. It’s the magic number of steps we need to aim for each day that will make us fitter and healthier.
Sales of fitness trackers and smartwatches with step trackers are on the rise and they get more stylish with each release, yet according to the NHS the average person in the UK only manages to hit between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day.
The actual number of 10,000 steps is relatively arbitrary. It was created in Japan in the 1960s when one of the first commercially available pedometers was released called the Manpo, meaning 10,000 steps in Japanese. In reality research has found that the number does offer at least a good target to aim for most healthy adults. A recent research review in the Journal of Health Research found that the research supported 10,000 steps a day as beneficial to body composition, blood pressure and serum lipid levels.
So what can you do if you’re consistently falling short on those steps? Or even if you hit them, but you’d still like to be more active? We’ve got 6 suggestions that you can easily integrate into your life to help you get more active and get that fitness tracker buzzing.
Take a Break
Some fitness trackers can be set to remind you each hour to get up and move if you haven’t walked a certain number of steps. If yours doesn’t, then use your phone or a kitchen timer, set it for an hour, and when it goes off, get up and walk. It only needs to be a few minutes. Walk to the kitchen and get yourself a glass of water for double bubble health benefits, step outside and get some fresh air or simply take the opportunity to stretch your legs.
Sitting at your computer hunched over all day is bad for your posture and your eyesight, so just a few minutes each hour could do more than boost your step count.
Ditch the Car
You already know that short journeys in the car are bad for the environment, but they’re also bad for your health. If a car journey takes 10 minutes or less then it’s likely that by the time you’ve found a parking spot you’re not even saving a huge amount of time.
A daily walk to your local corner shop to grab some bits for lunch or a pint of milk can easily add 1,000 steps to your daily count.
Sign Up for a Virtual Race
Virtual Races are the latest way to get yourself a bit of motivation to get out there and get moving. Sign up for a virtual 5 or 10k and you’ll have the opportunity to earn yourself a bit of bling to motivate you. Most races allow you to split the distances over several days, so you don’t have to do it all at once, and there’s no time limit, so you don’t have to run them, walking is perfectly acceptable.
Just sign up, use a fitness tracker or an app on your phone to track your walks, then upload the evidence to the website and a shiny medal will drop through your door to reward your efforts.
Don’t be Lazy
It takes a little while to train yourself into this, but once you make it a habit it’s a simple and low effort way to up your step count.
All those times you’re watching TV and think you could do with a jumper but you can’t be bothered to go upstairs and get one? Get up and go. Actively look for the stairs in offices, shops and hotels instead of taking escalators and lifts. Walk to your co-workers’ desk instead of using the internal mail, or calling them. Park in the first parking spot you see rather than driving around to find the one closest to the entrance, or even better, deliberately park in the furthest one away. Squeeze in some extra steps by pacing while you’re waiting in a queue, or cooking, or brushing your teeth.
They all count, and they’ll add up.
Let’s face it if you’re wearing stiletto heels that pinch your toes you’re going to be less inclined to take those extra steps than if you were comfortable.
This doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on style, there are plenty of stylish and comfortable shoes out there. It just means making it a priority to ensure that you can actually walk in what you’re wearing on a regular day.
Buy a stylish tote bag to carry comfortable shoes with you, or keep a pair of comfy flats tucked under your desk for lunchtime walks.
Get a Dog (Or Borrow One!)
There are plenty of other reasons to get a pet. They have a positive impact on your mental health, lower your blood pressure, and, well, they’re just adorable. But a lucky side effect is that those twice daily walkies will up your step count.
Don’t have a dog, or can’t afford one? Sign up to Borrow My Doggy, or ask a friend if you can walk theirs, or go out with them on their walks for some time to catch up and socialise as well as getting those steps in.
Upping your step count can improve your physical and mental health, as well as giving you some valuable time for yourself.
Do you have any other handy tips?
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Hi, my name is Gemma Seager. I live in Norwich, Norfolk in the UK, but I was born in Kent.
In 2007 I walked out on a job that had been making me miserable with a final paycheck and no savings. Suddenly unemployed I started an eBay shop selling vintage and pre-owned clothing. In early 2008 I read about blogging as a way to promote my shop and set up my first blog on Blogger. I quickly discovered it was way more fun than trekking to the post office and turned it into my full-time job.
I am now a freelance writer, social media manager and events organiser with my fingers in many pies.
Find out more about Gemma on her blog.
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