It’s no secret that walking is great exercise. It can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, while giving you more energy, and boosting your mood. Since walking is so easy to do, can be done anywhere and only requires a good pair of shoes, you should be headed out for a stroll right now.
But, how much walking will you need to do to make a noticeable difference in your health? Although the current recommendation is 10,000 steps, or about five miles, per day, mounting evidence suggests that this may not be enough to reap walking’s many health benefits. In fact, an increasing number of experts now say we should all be aiming for 15,000 steps per day. A recent research study appearing in The International Journal of Obesity suggested that those taking roughly 15,000 steps per day had smaller waist circumferences, decreased fasting triglycerides, increased HDL (good) cholesterol and reduced cardiovascular disease risk. This same study also dramatically displayed that heart disease risk increases with each hour spent sitting beyond five each day.
As compelling as the evidence sounds, if you’re like most Americans, the prospect of walking 7.5 miles per day might be rather intimidating. Fear not. There are many ways to work toward 15,000 steps per day. Some top tips for adding more walking to your day are to:
- take short walks in the morning, evening, or during your lunch time
- choose the farthest parking space
- walk all or some of the way to work
- take the stairs instead of the elevator
- march in place while standing in line
- choose walking-dependent recreation activities such as visiting the zoo or museum
- if you can’t walk, stand and march in place
Another useful tool for increasing your walking is a step counter. Such devices, readily available in mass retailers, drug stores, and online shopping sites, clip to your waistband and count your steps throughout the day. If you get a step counter, you should wear it for about a week to determine how many steps you take, on average, each day. Then, strive to increase your steps in increments of 5% or 10% until you reach your goal.
As you work to add more walking to your day, get rid of an “all-or-nothing” mindset that tells you nothing short of meeting your goal right now is acceptable. None of us has gotten into our current shape overnight or even over a few weeks. A sedentary life takes time to establish, as does an active one. The important thing right now is that you get off the couch or chair and just get moving.