Why is 10,000 the magical number of steps we’ve been told to reach each day? What does it mean and why should it even be a goal? To explore this concept, let’s look at the history of the 10,000 steps message.
What you might not know is that the idea of walking 10,000 steps a day for optimal health started as an advertising campaign for pedometers in Japan in the 1960s. But it caught on because it was a simple concept to understand and execute. As time moved forward, 10,000 steps became a good measure to equal the Surgeon General recommended 30 minutes a day of movement.
And that’s the critical message – it’s not about the steps, it’s about the movement. The idea is to find ways to get 30 minutes of extra movement into your day most days of the week.
Because walking is an easily accessible activity for many of us, it’s a good place to start. Buying a pedometer or digital activity tracker and wearing it regularly can help establish a baseline of how many steps we take each day already. A sedentary person averages between 1,000 and 3,000 steps.
Once you know where you’re starting, don’t jump into increasing to 10,000 steps the first day. It’s basically the equivalent of 5 miles and you wouldn’t kick off a new exercise program with a 5 mile hike. Here are some tips to add more steps slowly:
- Park farther away when running errands.
- Walk to a farther restroom or water cooler or even a copier on your work breaks. Even go up a flight of stairs.
- Go for a short walk on your break or lunch.
- Get off the couch and move during commercials – even if it’s just to do some extra cleaning.
As you increase your steps, keep boredom from setting in. It’s easy to turn your walks into a chance to engage with the world:
- Form a walking group to join you.
- Be inspired by this woman who collected items and made Instagram art.
- Engage your child-like joy. Try to push aside your inhibitions and mix your walking routine up with a little skipping and jumping. If you’re really feeling feisty, throw in a couple of these 15 animal walks.
- Increase awareness of your surroundings and take random pictures that appeal to you. These below were taken by the author around Seattle.
If walking is not your thing, don’t worry – any activity will do. Pick your favorite and go. If you aren’t sure though, here are some ideas:
- Take a fitness class – anything from yoga to Zumba to Tai Chi will work. Or even watch a fitness video in the comfort of your living room.
- Join a team – from bowling to flag football, enjoy community and grow stronger at the same time.
- Swim, bike, or go cross-country skiing.
- Have fun – hula-hoop, jump-rope, or just take some kids to the park and join them as they play.
Increasing your activity will help you increase your energy, feel stronger, and enjoy more endurance. It will also improve overall health and increase disease risk.
Let Univera be a part of your movement efforts:
- Walking increases your blood flow. To support these efforts, consider Rhythmatix to promote good circulation and help maintain healthy vein structure.*
- Don’t let joint discomfort dampen your efforts. RegeniFREE helps maintain joint comfort and flexibility.*
- And if you’re taking your dog along for company, help them with any joint discomfort by adding RegeniPET to their next meal.