The 10,000 daily step goal is daunting.
We know the drill. We ‘need’ to walk 10,000 steps each day.
We feel the pressure from family and friends who closely monitor their daily targets via their Fitbit, iPhone or smartwatch.
They magically seem to hit the target easily despite working full-time jobs, having a social life and finding time to binge-watch their favourite TV shows.
But how do they actually manage it?
Reaching this goal is even hard when you specifically pencil in a walk to get moving – so what about when you don’t have time for one?
Well, it turns out that it’s much easier to get to 10,000 steps when you don’t even realise you are doing it. In fact, there are a number of other ways to get moving – without the need for a designated walk.
‘Walking promotes a lot of health and mental health benefits, but we have to ask why we need to do this in the first place,’ says strength coach Ellie Crawley.
‘Is [the 10,000 goal] just another number the fitness industry has put on us?’
Well, you might be in luck.
According to research, doing 7,500 steps a day is just as beneficial as 10,000. In fact, the 10,000 steps a day was just a marketing campaign from back in 1964 that has stuck with us due to its catchy name.
‘Don’t get me wrong, 10,000 steps is a great goal for some people, but there isn’t a one size, number or plan that fits all,’ Ellie tells Metro.co.uk.
If 10,000 really does seem unachievable with your current schedule, look at the little ways you can increase the step count below.
Remember, if you are just starting out, start with a smaller goal – find what works for you.
How to reach the goal:
‘If you are an active and busy person anyway, then doing a class or gym session and then having to try and hit 10,000 a day can be a lot,’ Ellie says.
‘Ultimately, it will put more pressure on us than do good. So if you really want to increase that step count, start small.’
Ditch the lift
‘Hitting your daily 10,000 steps without going for a walk can be easier than you think,’ says Lynsey Trehane from Fitnessin15.
‘When you can, take the stairs. Not only will this get your heart racing, but you will add to that step target with each trip. If you’ve got toilets on every floor in the office, why not make the trip to the next flight up.’
Laura Lane, a personal trainer and online coach, takes this to another level.
‘I literally run up and down the stairs in my house,’ she says. ‘Try doing ten up and down runs at a time and at various points throughout the day.
‘Not only does it get your heart racing, but running up and down stairs is a great way to get moving and rack up that step count.
‘Plus, you get a super short workout all in the comfort of your home.’
Walk and talk
‘Stand up and walk while you’re on the phone instead of being glued to your chair,’ recommends Lynsey.
‘One client of mine used to hit 20,000 steps a day without leaving his office just by pacing on the phone.’
Laura adds: ‘If I’m on a phone call or on a Zoom where I don’t need to have my camera on, I simply connect my earbuds and walk around while I’m on the call.
‘It’s an easy win if you know you’re going to be on the call for a while.’
Set a reminder
Have an alarm each hour to remind you to get up and move.
Not only will this change of scenery benefit your mental health, and give you a chance to stretch and get a screen break, but walking away from your desk will also up your step count.
‘Set reminder alarms to get up on the hour to walk to the kitchen and back,’ says Lynsey.
‘You could even offer to make everyone in the office a coffee, or if you are working from home, then make this your opportunity to pour a fresh glass of water, so you get your daily water intake up, too.’
‘If you’re working from home, position your laptop at eye level, for example, on a high chest of drawers,’ says Michael.
‘If you’re in the office, ask your office manager if they’re able to get in a couple of standing desks.
‘Working standing up isn’t only better for your posture, but you will automatically chip away at your step goal when transferring your weight from one foot to another.’
Park further away
‘If you drive into work, or even if you’re just going to the shops, park further away than you usually would,’ Michael suggests.
‘Even if only by a few hundred metres, parking further away will force you to take slightly more steps. If you get the bus or tube, get off at an earlier stop.’
Hoovering is a great chore to get those steps in.
‘It’s a great full-body workout,’ says Laura. ‘Especially when you have a bit of purpose and power. Once you have cleaned your entire house, I guarantee you will have increased your step count a fair bit.’
‘Do your food shopping in-store rather than ordering online, walk to the shops, and walk the aisles,’ recommends physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Helen O’Leary.
Have a dance
Put on some feel-good music and dance it out.
‘They say music is good for the soul, so why not stick on your favourite tune and dance like nobody’s watching?’ says Lynsey. ‘You’ll soon have your step count soaring through the roof, and you’ll feel great too.’
Michael recommends roping your friends into a challenge.
‘Getting your friends involved in your step competition is an easy way of getting some fire in your belly to hit your step goal,’ he says.
‘Sometimes, when starting a new goal, such as hitting your 10,000 steps, some accountability in the form of a friend can really help you stick at it and provide motivation.
‘If you’re at work, challenge your workmates, and if you have a fitness tracker, add each other so you can see where your mates are at.’
Michael adds: ‘There are hundreds of benefits of getting your steps in both physically – by improving your fitness and strengthening your muscles and mentally – by reducing stress, anxiety and improving mood.
‘Getting your steps in is an easy (and free) way to do some good with your day.’
What about individuals with chronic pain?
When you are in pain, it is difficult to get steps into your daily life without going on long walks,’ explains The Fibro Guy, Adam Foster.
‘One thing we have always found to be effective in boosting step counts without needing to go for a walk is to set up regular breaks from computer work.
‘Not only does taking time away from the computer at regular intervals helps take the strain off your eyes, but it also helps to effectively sneak in extra steps.
‘Likewise, parking further away from shops, doing housework, and even playing with your children all help to increase your step count without you focusing on it.’
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