Walking for Fitness: 15 Ways to Increase Daily Steps

In a world where sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, finding ways to increase daily steps is paramount for our physical and mental health.  Everybody knows physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle yet not enough people are getting active. Walking is an ideal form of physical activity because it is free, can be done by almost every person, requires no special equipment or facilities, and can be incorporated into daily routines.

Benefits of Walking

Walking is good for reducing your risk of certain diseases and cancers, strengthening bones and muscles, enhancing immunity, and improving mental health.

Health Benefits of Walking

Walking is associated with lower blood pressure, decreased blood sugar, lower body mass index (BMI), increased bone mineral density, and increased energy (1).

Walking can reduce risk of certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. A 2020 study stated participants who took more than 4500 steps per day had a 59% lower risk of diabetes compared to those who took less steps per day (1). For heart health, walking lowers blood pressure, enhances oxygen delivery, and improves blood flow (1).

In addition to reducing the risk of diabetes, walking may also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Women who walked seven or more hours per week had a lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or less (2).

Walking helps burn calories but can also help with cravings. A 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate (2). Another benefit of walking is immunity. Walking at least 20 minutes a day 5 days a week resulted in 43% less sick days than those who exercised once a week or less (2). Lastly, walking helps with joint health by strengthening muscles and increasing bone density.

Mental Health Benefits of Walking

Walking has been shown to lower anxiety, decrease depression, improve mood, improve self-esteem, and lower stress (3). Research is limited and findings are mixed, but effects of walking and mental health outcomes have been studied. Also, adding walking to a treatment plan for depression and anxiety has shown positive outcomes.

15 Ways to Increase Daily Steps

Infographic listing the 15 ways to increase your daily steps

Per a 2010 study, Americans walk an average of 5,117 steps per day and this number declines after age 50 (4). Adults in Western Australia averaged 9,695 steps per day, Japanese residents averaged 7,168 steps and Swiss adults average 9,600 steps daily (4).  We need to increase our daily steps!

  1. Set walking reminders.
  2. Walk your dog.
  3. Take the stairs.
  4. Take the long route. Use a printer or bathroom that is farther away from your desk for extra steps.
  5. Walk during your break, it is even better if you can walk outside!
  6. Walk and talk – whether it’s a meeting or catch up with a friend. Take the phone outside or pace around the room to boost your steps.
  7. Get off at an earlier stop. Taking public transportation? Get off at a stop early and walk the rest of the way to your destination.
  8. Try walking meditation.
  9. Take a lap around the store before shopping.
  10. Walk after meals. Walking after meals has shown to improve digestion.
  11. Join a walking group.
  12. Use an under-desk treadmill.
  13. Skip the drive thru and curbside pick-up and go inside to pick up your order.
  14. Take an exercise class.
  15. Walk to visit your coworkers instead of emailing or calling them.

Enhancing Your Walking Journey

Are you already walking? That’s great! Here are a few tips on enhancing your walking journey:

  • Listen to music, podcast, or audiobook.
  • Make it a social activity – invite friends or family to walk with you.
  • Bring resistance bands to add in some strength training.
  • Increase the distance. Add another quarter mile or head to the next street or neighborhood.
  • Introduce intervals. Mix up your walk by adding in some jogging, running or brisk walking to get your heart rate up.
  • Finish with a stretch. Stretching is the perfect cool down and an opportunity to add more activity to your workout.

Check out the movement blog post for more ways to not only get steps but activity into your day.

Let’s Get More Steps!

Walking is a free activity that can be done alone, socially, indoors, outdoors, and requires no special skills or equipment. Whether you are looking to lose a few pounds, boost your fitness, improve your health, or enhance your mood, there are countless benefits to taking more steps each day. Embarking on a journey to increase your daily steps is not just about hitting a numerical goal; it’s a commitment to your overall health and wellbeing. Take an extra step towards a healthier you!

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