5 Ways to Fit More Steps into Your Day

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5 Ways to Fit More Steps into Your Day

Increasing your daily step count is an excellent fitness goal. It’s a great way to get you moving more often to spark up or resume an exercise habit. Even if you have been exercising routinely for years, it may not be enough to combat the ill effects of hours of sitting. That’s why adding more steps to your day is not only beneficial for your waistline but also for your overall health.

Walking may not be a huge calorie burner — the average person burns about 100 calories or so per mile — but adding more mileage to your day can make a big difference in weight control. According to Harvard Health Watch, one 2009 study found that the average person gains about 2.2 pounds a year during middle age. However, over 15 years of research, the study found that individuals who walked regularly gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

Not to mention: Walking offers plenty of health benefits, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes; reducing your risk of developing dementia and cancer; and even helping to reduce fibromyalgia pain. Plus, walking may be even more beneficial for your body than running. Walkers have a much lower risk of exercise-related injuries than runners, whose legs absorb about 100 tons of impact force in just one mile!

By now, you’ve probably heard the general “take 10,000 steps a day” recommendation, and while it might be a good fitness goal, it may not be the best place for you to start. According to the UK’s National Health Service, the average British adult walks between 3,000–4,000 steps a day. Suddenly jumping from 3,000–4,000 steps to 10,000 could be overwhelming for both your body and schedule.

Try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. (Pun intended!) Aim to add about 500 steps a day, increasing each week to build in more activity and eventually work your way up to 10,000 (or more) daily steps, if that’s your goal.

Here are five easy ways to help you gradually increase your daily step count:

1. Set a reminder to walk.
There’s no need to try to squeeze in all of your steps in one shot. In fact, you may get more benefit if you spread them out throughout the day. If you often get stuck at your desk for hours on end during your workday, try setting a reminder for every hour, and spend 15 minutes walking. If you’re able to repeat this five times a day, you may reach your 10,000 step goal before you leave work!

2. Walk and talk.
Decide that every time you take a phone call, you’ll walk. Whether you are in your office or at home, pace around your location. Is the weather nice? Take your mobile phone with you for an energizing outdoor conference call. Turning every phone conversation into a walking one can increase your daily step count almost effortlessly.

3. Try an indoor walking DVD.
It’s not always easy to fit in extra steps, especially if the weather won’t cooperate or you only have free time very early or late in the day. The great news is there are plenty of indoor walking DVDs. Check out my “Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles” DVD, which features a customizable menu that allows you to mix and match your miles to create your own personal walking plan every day. This DVD also includes two bonus routines: the “Strong Feet and Ankles Workout” and the “Strong Knees and Hips Routine” to help you continue to walk strong and pain free for years to come.

4. Partner up.
Whether it’s a post-dinner stroll with your spouse and/or kids or a power walk with a friend in the morning, sharing your steps with someone else is a great way to stay accountable and stick to your daily goal of walking more. Plus, you get to spend quality time with those you love.

5. Make things less convenient.
We’ve all heard the advice to “park farther away from the entrance” and “take the stairs” a million times, but how often do we actually do it? Sure, it’s more convenient to use the closer parking spot and to take the elevator up two floors, but putting just a little more effort into your routine also brings up your daily step tally.

Tell me, how do you add more steps to your day? Share your best tips with us in the comments below!

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  • miss ann

    when i go grocery shopping i first walk around the whole store up and down each row then i get my grocery

    • jessicasmithtv

      That’s a great tip Miss Ann, thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work 🙂

    • I do this one too. I have to be there anyway so I use the Bigness to my advantage.

  • Five years ago I was a smoker. At least 15 years between taking it up and quitting. A quick solitary smoke takes 5 minutes plus time to get outside/back to desk. A social smoke takes 15 minutes plus travel time. Smokers don’t have any qualms (and don’t get any criticism) for leaving the office for 5-15 minutes at a time every 1.5-2 hours.

    So now I’m 5 years in to being an ex smoker and looking for ways to increase my step count, I do the same thing I did 5 years ago but with a walk instead of a cigarette. Every 1.5-2 hours I go for a 10 minute (desk to desk) walk around the block.

    It’s made better that my office is on the edge of a national park, so it’s a very picturesque walk, and also includes 4-5 flights worth of stairs as I go from the back of the building to the front. I get 4-7 walks in every day.

    And if anyone brings it up, just point at a nearby smoker and remind them that you’re doing nothing they aren’t. But where as they are just returning themselves from a state of withdrawal and distraction to a state of normality, your trip outside is actually beneficial to both your mental wellbeing and your health.

    • jessicasmithtv

      Congrats to you on the healthy changes you’ve made! Love that your office is near a park, I bet that is a beautiful walk. Thanks for sharing these tips with us and keep up the great work 🙂

  • Hi Jessica,
    Great tips! Walking is so important. I love my FitBit. There are apps you can download to your phone that will alert you if you haven’t been moving. I always try to get up every hour or so and walk around for a bit. I’ve also heard the tip about walking in the morning the full 10,000 steps so the rest of the day is just icing on the cake. Just a few of my tips to add!

    • jessicasmithtv

      Thanks for sharing those Dade – so helpful! Keep up the great work 🙂

  • Rubypippa

    Hi, great tips, I walk to the printer every time I print something and stopped taking the car to the bank at lunch times, I walk unless I’ve got to bank cash. Like the idea of the walk instead of smoke break, excellent will be trying this. I do over 10,000 a day at home anyway as we have two black labs that need lots of walking but at work I up my game at least another 5,000. Two years ago I could barely walk up the stairs now I almost run up them!

    • jessicasmithtv

      Those are all great tips, thanks for sharing! And dogs are so great at helping us fit in our extra steps too 🙂

  • Kiwiwazza

    My office recently moved closer to my train station so I have started getting off one stop before and walking so I get the extra distance, the same on the return home. The tricky days are definitely when I’m home office and start early phone calls at my desk. Before I know it I’m hitting lunch time and done 500 steps or sometimes less. I have started planning a ‘brain break’ walk mid morning after the calls then slotting one in late afternoon too. It’s actually has helped manage stress and also achieve my walking goals. I have a great lunch place nearby home too so have started walking to get lunch, adds another reason to get out for a walk which didn’t exist before too. Thanks for the extra tips!

    • jessicasmithtv

      Love that idea about getting off the train a little sooner and taking ‘brain breaks’ – so good for your mental and physical health.. thanks for sharing those great tips! Not sure if you have to be on a landline or not, but you might want to try to take some of those calls walking (even just pacing back and forth adds up!) if you can 🙂

  • Fer

    Now I try to go to the bathroom at the end of the hall instead of the one closer to my office and park away from the main entrance.

    • juniper_shores

      I do this too! I work on a small campus with two buildings close to each other, so I either go to the bathroom on the opposite side of my building or in the next building ocer, depending on the weather and time constraints.

    • Talia Payne

      Me too 🙂 and drink heaps of water so it means several trips throughout the day! And print to the printer in the next room as well.

  • mysteryuz

    I take a break twice a day. Once to move my car to the first floor while
    everyone scatters out of the building. Another time to walk around the
    block at few times during my actual lunch break. It can add over two to
    three extra miles per day.

  • Melissa

    I don’t have a trashcan or recycle bin in my office. Every time I need to throw something away or recycle paper, etc., I get up and walk to the office trashcan and recycle bins….adds a lot of steps over the course of a day. Combined with parking as far away as reasonable and a walk around the block in the morning and afternoon, I get about 1/2 my steps in before I even hit the gym

  • Jane Lindsay-Hart Clifton

    I jog on my mini trampoline while watching TV in the winter. It is so much easier on my joints and back. And I can easily get 20,000 steps in just a few hours. And barely notice that I’m getting my steps in.

  • Myra

    I do a lot of ‘walking’ in place to get in extra steps. I’ll do this while standing in the grocery checkout (or any other) line, waiting for a 2-minute dish to cook in the microwave, taking a break during tennis games, anywhere I would simply ‘stand’ and wait.

  • Cindy Palm

    I work at a school that has all elementary classes upstairs. There are two sets of stairs that access the second floor; a set at each end of the elongated building. My resource/remedial room is in the library. When I collect my students, I walk to the farthest set of stairs and do the same with the students. Amazing how many extra steps this is!!!!! Oh, and I do park in left field and take the longer route!!!!

  • juniper_shores

    My husband recently started using my old FitBit and now we “compete” every day to see who can get in 10,000 steps first. It’s especially helpful for me in weekdays, as I have a desk job and he is on his feet all day at work, so I have to get up and move more to stay caught up! If neither of us get them all in by the end of the day, we make sure we take a walk after dinner.

  • Leslie Kain

    Regarding the hourly reminder to walk 15 minutes: Nice idea, but realistically, I don’t think an employer would appreciate paying an hour’s salary for 45 minutes’ work. I set my reminder to run up/down the stairs every hour – takes less than 5 minutes, but it’s more movement that continuing to sit nonstop.

  • Kevin Stoker

    I highly recommend getting a Fitbit or similar device. With Fitbit I have friends from all over the country who compete to get the most steps in a week. It makes me look for ways to walk. I have been able to increase my average steps per day to over 20,000, roughly 10 miles.

  • Phil J

    I was inspired to start walking further when I read Wuthering Heights 3 years ago:
    “‘Now, my bonny man, I’m going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you? You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall walk there and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!’
    It seemed a long while to us all—the three days of his absence—and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs. Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down to the gate to look. Then it grew dark; she would have had them to bed, but they begged sadly to be allowed to stay up; and, just about eleven o’clock, the door-latch was raised quietly, and in stepped the master.”
    Since then I’ve walked the Ridgeway (a 90 mile 5,000 year old trading route in southern England) twice. The first time in 4 days, and this year in 2 days. Next year I turn 50, but not before I do my first half marathon. All this walking meant I went straight to a 5km run in under 30 minutes on my first attempt, so my target is 2 hours for the full 13 miles.

  • Talia Payne

    Walk to the bank, use the toilet at the other end of the building, walk back to my desk while i”m waiting for the microwave or kettle, and print/scan to the printer in the staffroom instead of my office. But I probably should start parking further away too.

  • Anna Sitton Rogers

    I do tech support 10 hours a day, all of it at my desk from home. Also, I live in a very rural area, so walking to the store/bank isn’t an option, and my 4 year old granddaughter lives with us, so extra steps have to take her limitations into account. Any ideas how to fit in more steps daily? Any ideas how to fit more steps in? Any ideas are appreciated!

  • LJames

    Just seeing this article and it is helpful. When I am at home, I walk around while watching TV. I use walking DVDs so I incorporate some of the moves I remember from those while walking around my home.