xx tips for making walking 10,000 steps more manageable2022-10-14
10,000 steps is the go-to goal that many of us set for ourselves, but if you’re at work all day, it can be a tall order. Here’s how PTs break it down into manageable chunks.
Ten thousand of anything sounds like a lot, but when it comes to steps, it’s more achievable than you might think. Sure, it’s often tricky for those of us who are still working from home (pre-pandemic, the commute to work, the lunchtime dash for food and hourly laps around the office often see us clocking up 10,000 steps and beyond), but it’s still doable.
We spoke to some personal trainers and fitness experts to find out some of the easiest ways to increase your steps without even trying – or at least without changing too much in your life.
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The benefits of walking can’t be understated. Studies have shown walking to have positive effects on fitness, resting blood pressure, blood pressure control, depression and cardiovascular disease risk prevention. Walking at a pace of 5-8 km/h expends enough energy to count towards the 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week that’s recommended by the NHS.
Most of us realise how good this moderate exercise is, but we aren’t always doing the work. Before the pandemic, a poll of 2,198 adults conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Cancer Research UK, found that on average 52% of UK adults walk around 2,000 steps a day. When lockdown restrictions hit, that figure grew as people couldn’t use public transport and made walking a priority (remember those government-mandated walks in lockdown?).
Since then, though, walking is no longer considered the main attraction of our day. So, how can you get those steps in now?
How to walk more while WFH
The simplest way to approach achieving the 10,000 steps goal is to break it down into bite-size chunks. If you’re working from home, it might mean:
- Taking a 10-15 minute walk before you start your shift
- After you’ve had your lunch break, take another 15-minute stroll to digest your food
- Aim to end the working day with a 15-minute meander to process any thoughts you might have before you move into downtime.
Breaking it down like that means not only will you reach the required 30-45 minutes of exercise a day, but it will also give you ample opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and all the mental health benefits that brings.
How to increase steps when working in the office
Martena David, a PT at Gymbox, says there are little things you can do if you’re commuting to work.
Walk to the station in the morning
David tells Stylist: “Leave a little earlier and walk to the station or to work. If that’s too much of a walk, get off a stop or two before and walk the rest of the way.
Use your lunch break to move
“You should also take full use of your lunch break,” she adds. “And use it to move. Go out for some fresh air and a walk. It’ll help clear your mind and help with productivity levels for when you return.”
Make up steps at the gym
On your way home from work, you can do the same trick of getting off earlier and walking the rest of the journey. David shares one more tip: “If you plan on going to the gym before or after work, using the treadmill as part of a warm-up or cool-down is another great way of adding some extra steps in.”
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Move more frequently
Another way to hit your targets is change how often you move, says Nicola Basger, a psychotherapist and personal trainer.
She explains how most of us don’t mind taking a break at work (checking phones, browsing Twitter, etc), but we often feel we have to stay at our desks. But we can use these breaks to get up and move around, she says.
Move every 45 minutes
“We know that our brains work best in short spurts,” she tells Stylist. “So set a timer for every 45 minutes (for about four times a day) to get up and move – walk around the office, get out in the garden, walk up and down the stairs.
“Four lots of 15-minute breaks equals an hour’s exercise a day – that’s not to be sniffed at! And when you combine that with the rest of the movement, you’ll soon hit those 10,000 steps and then some every day. And your brain and your body will thank you for it.”
What if 10,000 steps isn’t a realistic goal?
Although 10,000 steps might be the recommended amount – or at least the normalised amount, some say around 7,000 is enough – it might not be a realistic goal for everyone.
So how do you begin to work towards that kind of target?
Start slowly if 10,000 steps is too much at first
Fitness expert Sarah Craske, who owns an F45 gym, tells Stylist: “If you are new to fitness then you may want to start lower and then build up gradually. Walking is one of the best ways to exercise as it requires no equipment, and you can do it at your own pace, in your own time. Just build it in to your daily trip to the shop or walk a bit further for your mid-morning coffee.
“If you have been inactive recently then I would suggest you start slowly, maybe alternate days to start with, and start with a lower step count and then build this up. As you start to feel more capable, you can consider building in extra elements to improve your fitness.”
Find a realistic plan to walk every day
She recommends sticking to a plan that feels realistic to you. Going on a 90 minute walk a day might be a bit too much, but two to three 10-minute walks might be more manageable. You can then add on to this amount.
Play around with pace and have rest days
Craske adds: “Look at your current average daily step count and build in a small increase. For example, if you are currently at 4,000 steps per day, look to increase by around 20% each day so your goal is 4,800 each day the following week and so on. You will find you easily accumulate the steps once you really start to track them. If you start to feel tired, it is OK to reduce or have a rest day.”
She says that you can also play around with pace and walk quickly for five minutes and then a bit slower for the next, to improve your speed and cardiovascular health.
Why you should give walking every day a go
So if you’re trying to get fitter, you might want to start by increasing your step count. You can also supplement this with a fitness regime at the gym or another form of exercise. As well as physical benefits, walking has a positive effect on our mental health too.
Craske adds: “Walking and being active can improve health conditions such as high blood pressure and will improve your immune system. Walking also offers huge benefits to your mental health as it gives you time to be outside, disconnecting from phones and emails. Taking time to see what is going on around you is a great escape from being at home inside the same four walls or staring at screens all day.”
Shall we get some steps in then?
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