So, you’ve decided you want to live a more active lifestyle, and getting your steps in is how you want to achieve it…
Particularly if you work in an office or sat at a desk for the duration of the day, you’re probably thinking there aren’t that many opportunities to get your steps in and smash the 10,000 steps threshold. Your day likely consists of a commute to work, followed by sitting at a desk for almost the entire workday, coming home, and plopping down on the sofa to unwind. You probably don’t even take your full lunch break (which is the norm for 56% of employees!) and spend most of that sitting down too.
Sitting down itself isn’t actually what’s bad for you, it’s sitting down for too long. In fact, spending too much time sitting down has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, obesity, and even cancer. And aside from the obvious health concerns, sitting down for too long has also been attributed to fatigue and a lack of motivation. So, getting yourself up and walking is a great way to make sure you’re taking care of your body the way you should be, AND staying as productive as possible.
You might be thinking “I’m busy, I don’t have time to be walking for 10,000 steps every day!”, and you certainly wouldn’t be the only one. However, 10,000 equates to approximately 8 kilometres and should take on average one hour and 40 minutes to complete in one go. You don’t need to be doing it all at once to meet your target and breaking up 1h40m throughout your whole day doesn’t add up to much. It’s all about knowing when to start walking…
Do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day?
10,000 feels like a really specific number, so where did it come from? This has been the default guide now for decades, and most of you with fit bits or other smartwatches that track your daily steps have probably noticed that it’s automatically programmed to 10,000 steps. Actually, in 1965 a Japanese company designed a device called the ‘Manpo-kei’ which translates to ’10 thousand steps metre’. Today the 10,000 steps seem to have stuck around and become the benchmark for living an active lifestyle.
However, in more recent research 10,000 steps were proven to be an important number and linked to a significant decrease in cardiovascular disease and 13 different types of cancer. That being said, you don’t have to hit exactly 10,000 to see some impressive health benefits, so don’t get too hung up on the actual number. For example, walking 9,800 steps a day showed a 50% decrease in dementia but only walking 3,800 steps a day saw it reduced by 25%.
So, whilst 10,000 is a good target to have, simply upping your step count per day can still improve your health. After a while, incorporating more walking into your day will form a healthy habit, making it much easier to reach your target step count. So simply walking wherever you can and not focusing too much on the figure at first is a good way to start forming the habit.
How to up your step count to 10,000
There are SO many ways that you can sneak in a few extra steps here and there throughout the day, and you’d be surprised at how active you can make many menial and work-related tasks. Here are a few of our favourite ways that you can start upping your steps and smashing your 10,000 steps goal…
Change up your commute
If you travel into the office every day or a few days a week, there are some great opportunities to shake it up and get yourself moving before you get to the office. If you tend to drive, then where possible try and park your car a little further away than normal so you have to walk a few more minutes to get from your car and to your desk every day. Alternatively, if you get the bus then hop off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. Not only will you be increasing your activity levels but your endorphins will be flowing and your mood will be much improved by the time you get to your desk. In the UK the average daily commute time is on average 56 minutes, but if you don’t live too far from work, cycling or even walking the whole way there might knock out your whole target in one go and any more steps you take throughout the day are added extras!
Set yourself some reminders throughout the day to get up and move around, even if it’s just for 5 minutes or a quick walk to put the kettle on. Setting little alarms will remind you that you need to be active even when you’re lost in your work. What’s even better is that movement has been linked with increased creativity, so you’ll get back to your desk filled with some great new ideas!
Take the stairs
This one seems like a super obvious one but take the stairs! Ditch the lift and make yourself walk up the stairs to get to where you need to be. A flight of stairs has on average 10-12 stairs so it’s a great way to up your step intake and build those glutes. If you live in a penthouse or your office is on the 60-something floor which you don’t quite fancy hiking up, then just get out of the lift a couple of floors below and walk the rest of the way up.
Schedule a walking meeting
If you’ve got a catch-up scheduled into your work calendar this week or you agreed to meet up with a friend, why not suggest a walk meet? Grab a coffee and go for a stroll around a local park. If it’s a work meeting you can still discuss all the points you wanted to, you’re just adding a little movement into the mix. And as we said before, you’ll probably find the creative juices are flowing even more than usual so it’s likely to be a very productive meeting.
Invest in a standing desk
Standing desks are a great way to improve your health when you’re stuck at your desk the whole day. Even just standing up for a while can really improve your health and boost your productivity and contribute to a little bit of movement each day. If you want to go one step (pardon the pun) further, then investing in an under-desk treadmill is such a cool idea. These mini treadmills have you walking on the spot whilst you work and can catapult your step count well into the 10,000s without even trying! Don’t worry, you won’t be disrupting your work at all, you’ll hardly even notice your feet moving.
Get a walking buddy
Enlist a friend that’s also keen to get their steps up to walk together. Having a friend to walk with keeps you accountable and keeps you company while you’re out walking. You’ll feel more motivated to show up so you aren’t letting your friend down and you can keep track of your steps together. It’s also a really good opportunity to chat and have a good gossip!
When you put your mind to it, there are so many opportunities throughout the day to squeeze in a few extra steps. Before you know it, you’ll have created such a healthy habit that you won’t even notice you’re doing it! Your physical and mental health with thank you for it in the long run too. 10,000 steps are a good benchmark to set yourself but don’t focus too much on it at the beginning and focus more on getting extra steps in wherever you can. As you start to get into the rhythm, the step count will take care of itself and pretty soon you’ll find yourself surpassing the 10,000 target. Just remember, every step counts.
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