By now, we’re all pretty aware that taking at least 10,000 steps per day is good for our health. It’s thought that the benchmark first originated in Japan in the early 1960s, when a team of researchers led by Dr Yoshiro Hatano discovered that the average person was only taking 3-5,000 steps a day, and suggested that increasing that to 10,000 would make for a healthier and happier population.
Though it’s been argued since that the benchmark is fairly arbitrary, I don’t think anyone’s denying that we’ll feel a little bit better about ourselves if we hit the pavements a bit more often.
And so over the past few months, this is exactly what I’ve committed myself to doing. 10,000 steps. Every single day. Come rain or shine. I’ll admit that I wasn’t always overjoyed about the prospect. I’m not naturally athletic, and I don’t have a love of exercise. But the vast majority of days, I’ve quite comfortably hit my goal, and I definitely feel much better for it.
Not sure if you can do it? I felt the same. Here’s my guide to hitting 10,000 steps per day…
FACE FACTS BY GETTING A STEP COUNTER
It’s all too easy to kid yourself when it comes to your activity levels. You convince yourself that you’re fairly active, and that you must be clocking up a ton of steps whilst you’re just going about your every day business. That may well be the case, but it pays to make sure that you really know how you’re measuring up.
I really love my FitBit Alta wristband, and it’s definitely kept me accountable. It helps that you can get a pretty funky looking pink wristband! You don’t have to splash out a load of cash though. You can pick up a simple pedometer for less than twenty quid which will do exactly what you need it to do. This means that you can’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to just how many steps you’re doing each day.
MAKE WALKING PART OF YOUR EVERYDAY ROUTINE
If you leave your 10,000 steps per day to chance, then you probably won’t hit them. In fact, you’ll probably be nowhere near. I quickly learned that if I wanted to consistently smash my targets, then I was going to have to make some changes to my day to day life. First of all, I roped a family member into going walking with me three times a week. Once we’d made that commitment to each other, we turned up.
I also changed the way that I got from A to B. Instead of jumping into the car to visit my local supermarket – which is about a mile away – I’d make sure that I left plenty of time to walk. Just those two new routines really upped my weekly step count, and brought me close to reaching my daily goal.
IF YOU FALL OFF THE WAGON, JUMP STRAIGHT BACK ON
We all have off days. Maybe you missed your step target because you weren’t feeling very well, or you had to sort things out at work and it took longer than you expected. What’s really important to remember here is that it is just one day. They’ll happen. You just need to dust yourself off and move on. Get your trainers ready next to the door, and plan how you’ll get back on the horse tomorrow.
Though I do try to hit 10,000 steps per day, I do add a little bit of flexibility into my plans. As long as I average 70,000 over any given week, I don’t stress about it too much. Consistency over time is what really matters, and what will make the difference.
REMEMBER THAT LITTLE EXTRAS CAN REALLY ADD UP
Going for a daily walk is great when you’re aiming to hit your step goal. I realised though that there are tons of things you can do without too much extra effort, than can really help you to ramp up those numbers. Now, I park a little further away if I have to take the car somewhere. If I take a call at home, I walk around the house whilst I’m chatting. I bypass escalators in favour of the stairs.
On their own, these things aren’t going to add up to much. But when you’re doing them regularly, they really help you to increase your activity levels without you even realising it. Think about what you do on a daily basis, and consider how you can add in even a tiny extra bit of walking.
A few months into my journey to 10,000 steps per day, I’m definitely feeling the benefit. I’m sleeping better, and I have a greater sense of general wellbeing. I’m taking it one day at a time, but it’s a habit that I’m not planning to give up anytime soon.
Are you also trying to hit a daily step goal? What’s helped you to stick to your promise to yourself?