Walking is a type of low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise which has a number of health benefits and very few risks. As a result, it is recommended that most adults should aim for 10 000 steps per day. For most individuals, this is equal to 8 km.
Most people only take between 3 000 and 4 000 steps per day, which equates to about 2.5 to 3 km. As doctors often consider fewer than 5 000 steps per day to be sedentary. This means that a lot of people are not getting as many steps as they should in order to benefit their health.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking may improve:
- Muscle strength,
- Range of motion,
- Blood flow,
- Balance, which can help prevent falls,
- Joint stiffness,
- Mood and sleep, and
In addition, walking can help to improve or prevent certain health conditions, such as obesity, osteoporosis as well as age-related memory loss.
The Health Benefits Of Walking Appear To Increase With Step Count
A 2020 study found that people who took part and who took 8 000 steps per day had a 51% lower risk of dying by any cause as compared with those who took 4 000 per day.
This trend continued with increased step counts as participants who took 12 000 steps every day had a 65% lower risk of dying as opposed to those who took 4 000.
This finding suggests that the health benefits of walking increase with step count however also shows that people who are not able to reach 10 000 steps in a day can still benefit from the activity.
How To Integrate More Steps Into Your Day
Once you’ve determined your health and fitness goals, try out these ideas for incorporating more walking into your daily routine:
- Why not take the dog for a walk? If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk dogs at an animal shelter. Or merge your activity with social time by connect with a friend and walking his or her dog.
- Try music. A bouncy tune – or something with a strong beat – may make activity more enjoyable and assist with motivating you to walk farther or faster.
- Include the family. Rather than an afternoon movie, go for a walk or hike together.
- Go in person. Rather than sending a work email, walk to your colleague’s desk and talk to them.
- Walk while waiting. Take a walk rather than sitting when you’re early for an appointment or waiting for a flight.
- Schedule workday walks. Put reminders into your calendar for short walking breaks in order to ramp up your energy during the day. Have a one-on-one meeting? Plan to walk and then talk.
- Park farther away. Select parking spots farther away from the entrance. If you use the bus, get off a stop early and then walk the rest of your way.
- Take the stairs. Even going down the stairs goes towards your step count
- and also burns calories.
How far will you go today? Your fitness and health goal will depend on your starting point. However nearly everyone can reap the benefits of walking more, step by step.
Keen on learning more about how exercise works? If you are then you need to do our Exercise Science Certification. Follow this link to find out more.