Walking is good for you! It is good exercise and great for de-stressing and everywhere you can walk instead of drive is good for the environment.
You should aim for 5,000 steps a day to start with. Then up it to 10,000 steps a day. Over 10,000 steps a day is considered active. That is where we want to be. It can seem daunting at first, especially if you have been somewhat inactive for a while. (As with most new exercise regimens, please get your doctor’s approval before beginning.) However, with a little help and some perseverance, you can increase your daily step totals.
My first recommendation is to get a pedometer and use it every day and record your steps so you can chart your progress. Getting extra steps into our days can seem difficult when you are starting out, so here are some ways to easily add steps.
1. Take the dog for a walk. Your dog will love it (our canine buddies need exercise too) and both of you can benefit from the walking and the together time.
2. Take the stairs. I know you all know this one. But it bears repeating. Stay off of the elevators, escalators, and moving walkways.
3. Quit parking so close. It seems to be human nature to look for the closest-in parking spot wherever we go – church, grocery store, restaurant, mall, etc. But if you take that end-of-the-row spot you can add many steps. Try it next time you are at the grocery store. Park way down the row and at the far row from the entryway, then count your steps to the store. Now double it because you will have to walk back as well. See how many you just added?
4. Every time you go to the mall, walk the whole perimeter of the mall first before you head into any shops. It is easy to do, and if you walk briskly you can get a good workout before you go leisurely shop.
5. Every time you go to the grocery store or Walmart or the library, etc., go up and down every single aisle, as well as making a quick walk around the perimeter. You will be amazed at how many steps you take if you walk every aisle at Costco.
6. Quit using the drive-up. How many places do you go to every week where you use the drive-up window? The bank, the pharmacy, the library, the coffee shop, fast-food……lots of places! Well, stop doing that. Get out of your car at all of those places. And don’t forget to park at the end of the rows so you can add those extra steps. Most of the time, drive-up isn’t even faster than getting out of your car and going inside. Check it out next time.
7. Don’t drink your coffee or tea in the kitchen. I think most people have their morning coffee or tea at the kitchen table, maybe reading the morning paper too. And most of us drink more than one cup in the morning. So go to another room. For me, I take my coffee to my basement and sit at my desk. It is 39 steps from my desk to the coffee pot. If I drink 3 cups of coffee I can add well over 200 steps to start my day, just by taking my coffee downstairs instead of sitting at the table.
8. Bring those grocery bags into the house one at a time. Most of us typically try to grab 4 or 5 bags at once, so we can make fewer trips. If you take each bag into the house, you will add a lot of extra steps to your day.
9. Walk. Of course, walking adds steps to your day. So get outside and walk everyday. Figure out how many steps you take to walk a mile. Not everyone is the same. If you have long legs or have a long stride, you will need fewer steps than if you are shorter or walk slower. Next figure out where you need to walk to in order to walk 1 mile, 2 miles, 5 miles, etc. For example, if I walk from my house to the King Soopers and back, it is approx. 4 miles. If I take the dogs for a walk, we have a set loop that is approx. 3/4 of a mile. Knowing the different distances helps me keep track of how far I have walked each day.
10. Find a buddy. If you can find a friend or relative to walk with you that will help you. You can both benefit from spending time together and can help keep each other motivated to walk on a regular basis.
11. Use the treadmill. Yeah I know, not the most favorite way of adding steps. At least for me it isn’t. I can do it, but I am not as happy about it as I am when I am able to go outside. But let’s face it, sometimes the weather is miserable and you have to walk indoors. However, the treadmill is deceptive. If you walk for 3 miles on the treadmill and you get bored or tired or thirsty or the phone rings or anything, it is easy to just get off and stop. But if you are outside walking and go 3 miles and get tired or bored, etc., you still have to go another 3 miles to get back home!
So get out there and walk more. You will feel better! It will get easier the more you do it, and soon you will be looking for extra ways to add some more steps to your day.