Walking is one of the number one things you can do to improve your health. This is low impact exercise, but at the same time it will get your heart beating, it will burn calories and it will tone muscle. More important is the simple fact when you're walking, by definition you aren't sitting still. The human body was never designed to sit still for such long periods of time and simply by moving around you can extend your lifespan and improve your health in all kinds of ways.
And the great thing about walking is that it's incredibly easy. In fact it's something that almost everyone already does a fair amount every day. It's just even better if you can do more.
Here are some 'steps' you can take… to taking more steps!
Measure Your Steps
The first thing you can do in order to take more steps is to try measuring the amount of steps that you take. These days that's very easy to do with something like a pedometer – or even just a pedometer app for your phone ('Noom' is a very good one).
This is a great strategy because, as they say, 'that which is measured, improves'.
Estimates vary widely, but in a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2004 (1), it was found that men on average walked around 7,192 while women walked an average of 5,210 steps. It was found as well that lower number of steps was correlated with a higher BMI – probably not a coincidence. According to one Dr Tudor-Locke, adding 2-3,000 more steps to your daily routine will be enough to help you maintain a slimmer body. Set your targets and then aim for something realistic – you can always increase your goals further over time.
The number one opportunity that most people have for walking is commuting to work. Some people will walk the entire way on their commute, while others will get the bus or the tube. In the latter cases you can still get some walking in, just get off a stop early. And if you're walking, why not go the scenic route? Taking a more scenic route also happens to be very good for building more neural pathways in the brain.
The same goes for any errands that you may go on, whether that's shopping or going for a haircut. If you need to go anywhere, then there will normally be some walking involved. So why not take advantage of this by taking a longer route?
Going for Walks
Really though, you don't need an 'excuse' to walk. Why not just go for a walk because you know it's good for you and because it's a pleasant way to spend twenty minutes?
If you're looking for something pleasant to do in the evening after work, then just find a nice park and head out for a walk. Or alternatively, you could head out for a family walk each weekend, or you could just pop out for twenty minutes. These days I tend to go for a walk whenever I need to make a phone call and this is a good way as well to ensure that I'm getting some fresh air. I'd just be sitting there otherwise, so why not get a little gentle exercise while catching up with correspondence?
Join a Walking Club
There are many clubs and groups that are dedicated to hiking and going on long, scenic walks. If you join them, then you will be able to go on walks through scenic routes while having the support of a community to encourage you and provide conversation.
Get a Dog
If you're looking for incentive to go on lots of walks, then getting a dog should do the trick. Dogs love walking and in fact they need to go on regular walks in order to burn energy and stop bouncing around the house and eating everything. Your dog won't let you skip those walks and very quickly you'll add a thousand or two steps onto your daily tally.