How to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day
Lately it seems that every other health article is related to how bad sitting at the workplace is for you. Most recommendations include getting a standing desk or treadmill desk. Other recommendations include taking more walks or standing while taking calls. While all these recommendations are good, they are not always possible to implement.
I, like most of my peers, have a typical 9 to 5 (or later) desk job. I work in a cubicle with no fancy standing or treadmill desk. I either take my lunch at my desk or out of the office, depending on how busy I am. All in all, my work situation does not itself lend well to being on my feet most of the day.
Despite my less than active work environment, I still am able to achieve my daily goal of walking a minimum of 10,000 steps. While the jury is still out on the ideal number of steps per day to stay healthy, 7,000 – 8,000 seems to be a good estimate. However, I would venture to say that all of us need to walk more.
So how do I consistently achieve 10,000+ steps per day? I turn my work day into a game – with the mission of taking the most amount of steps per day. By turning this into a game, I (i) never forget that I should always find time to move around and (ii) find any opportunity I can to move. Further, the more I move, the more moving becomes a habit, creating an even more bulletproof strategy.
Here is a typical day for me.
- Walk to Work (~1564 steps). Being close to work is a huge advantage for me in terms of health, lifestyle and time saved. I know not everyone has the luxury of walking to work but if you can find ways of commuting that involves either a bike or your feet, I highly recommend it.
- Office Stairs (~300 steps). The stairs are the easiest way for me to get steps in throughout the day. They are close to my cubicle, and since I work in a high rise, the sky’s the limit with the amount of flights I want to take. I tend to usually take 5 flights up and down 3 – 5 times a day. I like to focus on deep breathing while I am here as well.
- Walk to Lunch (~2,474): Today I walked to lunch with a coworker about ten minutes away which added a good amount of steps. Anytime I am not busy at work or have lunch plans, I make it a point to have my lunch at home. This gives me the ability to not only get my steps in, but also have a nice, warm home-cooked meal outside of the confines of my work computer.
- Morning / Afternoon Walks (~800): I try to step out between 2 – 4 times a day out of the office to take a quick walk. Depending on my workload, I may just take a walk to Starbucks or I may longer 10 –20 minute walks. Sometimes I walk to the Starbucks that is a little bit farther to get my coffee and step fix at once.
Other little tricks I do to get my steps include: taking longer routes to work or crossing the street every time there is a redlight; pacing back and forth while waiting for the elevator; pacing back and forth IN the elevator (assuming no one else is in there); and taking lots of water breaks.
While none of this is rocket science, it is a practical way to hit and surpass your daily step goals. Further, you can start this right away. All you have to do is (i) set a minimum daily step goal you’d like to hit (something that is a stretch but achievable); and (ii) track your steps (pedometer, Fit Bit, Iphone / Android Apps such as Mapmywalk, etc.). By turning walking into a game, you are able to trick your mind into wanting to take steps at any opportunity possible. Now get to walking.