How many steps a day should you be walking to stay fit?
Depending on your age and current level of fitness, a proper fitness goal would be to take somewhere in the range of 5,000 (nominal) to 10,000 (optimal) steps per day. But the body will adjust best to a new regimen if this number is attained incrementally, not all at once. Shoot for increasing your activity by 50 to 100 steps per day and you’ll get there soon enough, without risking injury or pain.
The great thing about increasing your daily movement at this moderate yet eminently achievable pace is that you’re practically guaranteed to get positively psyched about addressing your health goals each and every day. Your overall stamina will improve, and you’ll probably find yourself sleeping better, as well. This moderate progression will surely lead to success in other areas as well, such as making better choices at meal time, or extending your cardio and resistance training time at the gym.
For example, if you’re a software developer, writer, accountant, or attorney strapped to a desk; and sitting in meetings, cars, restaurants and on the sofa for 10 or more hours; you may be getting in only a couple of thousand steps per day. A good rule of thumb in this example is to allow yourself about three months to get to your optimal goal of 10,000 steps a day.
Using a treadmill desk for even just 2-3 hours a day can get you at least halfway to your goal without taking any time away from your day job. In fact, your productivity will improve just from pumping that much more oxygen to your brain, without even breaking a sweat. One mile is equivalent to about 2,000 steps, so if you can set your pace to, say, 1.5 miles per hour you can knock out half your daily goal in just 2-3 hours of use.
Other pleasant ways to coerce more steps into your daily life include:
- Take a daily walk with a family member, friend or co-worker
- Walk the dog – or, if you don’t have one, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park your car the farthest distance away from the elevator or mall entrance, instead of the closest spot your always stress to capture; you’ll get fewer door dings in your car as a bonus
- Better yet, walk to the store
- Plan a walking meeting (or at least a standing meeting) instead of another sitting session
- Take up a new outdoor hobby, such as gardening, that will require daily or weekly activity to maintain
- Cook more at home, eat out less
- Better yet, shop for fresh groceries every day and walk home with a single bag of groceries; your meals will taste better when using the freshest ingredients