That our phones track our step counts now is both a gift and a curse. A gift because it’s easy to see when we reach that coveted 10,000-step goal. A curse because it’s also easy to see when we don’t.
There’s some good news on this front (but don’t get too excited, we’re still going to talk about stepping). The 10,000-step benchmark isn’t totally necessary. It was an unscientific health goal created decades ago during a Japanese marketing campaign promoting the pedometer. Whew.
You still need to walk some, though. According to a 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, the number of steps women need to maintain good health and live a long life is about 4,000 steps a day. And if you’re pregnant, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says you should increase that step count to about 6,000 a day.
If you work a desk job, are in meetings all day, or are just too busy taking care of everyone else to worry about your personal metrics, that goal might seem entirely unachievable—and unnecessarily stressful. But it doesn’t need to be. Here are a few ways you can increase you step count without rearranging your entire life.
Take the stairs
Or walk up the escalator. Anything to get your legs moving instead of letting a machine do all the work. You don’t have to do this quickly—especially if you’re carrying pregnancy weight. You just have to do it.
Suggest walking meetings
We spend a good chunk of our work time in meetings, but they don’t have to be in front of a PowerPoint presentation to be effective. Suggest your 1:1 or brainstorming sessions be a walking ones when the weather is nice.
The misconception of walking during work is that your walks have to be long ones. Take a lap around the building, then get back to work if you must. Do another lap later in the day if you have time.
Park far away
Parking next to your office is nice when it’s raining and you can’t find your umbrella, but it doesn’t help your step count. Park as far away as possible in your lot or garage, and do the same when you go shopping or to the grocery store. It feels ridiculous at first, but the numbers do add up.
Walk during phone calls
You have to call your boss. You have to call the cable company. You have to call your sister. Stand up and walk around, whether in your office, outside your building, or around your neighborhood. Walk, walk, walk.
Use the restroom on a different floor
At work, at home (if possible), take the stairs to a distant commode. It’s a pain, yes, but the steps are worth it.
Skip the delivery services
And the drive-thrus. Although these options save time (do drive-thrus save time, though?), they cut valuable movement and, honestly, peaceful mindless wandering out of your life. Go to the grocery store, shop in person for your partner’s birthday gift, and order that McDouble at the counter.
Walk around your house
Not around your house, but inside it. Do laps in your living room while you stream your favorite show. Walk up and down the stairs while the oven preheats. Pace during the news if you aren’t already.
Get a dog
Who doesn’t love a good excuse for puppies? Dogs need walks like humans need...walks. That wagging tail will remind you how much steps matter. If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, try a dog-walking side-hustle like Wag so you can earn cash as you earn steps.
Go on a date
A walking one! Find a neighborhood you adore and stroll through it with your partner or your most recent swipe. This is your chance to be an expert home appraiser—with ample steps, no less.