A friend of mine was looking at her pedometer and complaining that it was nearly impossible to reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day with her busy schedule. I got curious. I thought I was an active person. I walked everywhere, I spent a lot of time outdoors with the kids. Surely, 10,000 steps weren’t a problem for me!
I downloaded a pedometer app for my iPhone and it was time for a reality check. Even with my relatively active lifestyle, I was only walking around 7,000 steps a day unless I consciously looked for more opportunities to move.
Why 10,000 steps? The recommendation for 10,000 steps originated in Japan in the 1960s. Dr Yoshiro Hatano found that an average person takes between 3,500 and 5,000 steps a day. An increase to 10,000 is totally doable for most of us and it would mean a marked difference in people’s fitness and wellbeing.
The easiest form of exercise
Almost anyone can do it. You don’t to pay gym fees or find special equipment, you don’t even have to take too much time out of your day. You have to get to places anyway, so why not substitute some of your driving for walking?
Proven health benefits
Walking strengthens the cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. It helps manage cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. It strengthens the bones and improves balance. If that’s not enough, walking also reduces mental stress. How many of us would say ‘no’ to less stress?
Time for learning and creativity
I usually use my walking time to listen to audio books or podcasts. Often new thoughts just pop into my mind. You can do it, too. Just remember to bring a notebook to capture your great ideas.
Opportunity for ‘me’ time
If I tell my extroverted, type-A husband that I’m going for a walk because I need time for myself, he won’t get it. In his minds this can easily translate into “I don’t want to spend time with you, so I’d rather walk in the streets aimlessly”. On the other hand, when I say that I need to do my 10,000 steps, he can relate – I have a measurable goal and I’m going after it.
It’s been a few months since I’ve downloaded the pedometer app and I’m still hooked. It’s like playing a computer game – you’re always trying to get a higher score to get to the next level, only there are a lot more benefits than just having fun.
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