You've probably heard that logging 10,000 steps daily can help you control your weight and keep you healthy. But if you have an office job, spend a lot of time driving, or are constantly pressed for time, shooting for that number can seem overwhelming—if not downright impossible. Should you resign yourself to being a couch potato/desk jockey? Hardly!
While getting 10,000 steps (or more) is a great goal, upping your current activity level by just a little—say, an additional 1,000 steps—has solid health perks, say experts. What's more, almost anyone can tack on this seemingly small amount of movement by just doing a few common place lifestyle changes…. If you really want to that is.
Take a second to ponder the math, and you'll see that it really does add up: 1,000 steps clocks out to about half a mile, which works out to an extra 365,000 steps a year. That's nearly 180 miles of extra movement, and it will absolutely change the way you look and feel. Now remember, like anything that matters, you need to track your activity and since we are talking steps, why not strap on one of the most popular activity trackers that have become almost a standard in the fitness world. Check out the Fitbit Charge Heart Rate Activity Band.
With no need of a chest-strap, the Fitbit Charge captures your readings and sends them along for accurate results. So now you can get a handle on just how long it’s going to take you to bank those 1000 steps.
Here are some of the perks that come with moving just a little more:
1. Your heart won't have to work so hard.
"Simply going from being sedentary to engaging in even modest levels of activity dramatically improves your health and begins decreasing your risk of heart disease," says Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery. Movement makes your muscles better able to pump blood throughout the body, so your heart rate comes down.
2. You'll slash your stroke risk.
Extra activity directly reduces your chances of having a stroke. It also helps keep your blood pressure in check—which further reduces your stroke risk. Double win! You won’t get those results sitting back in your office chair looking at your computer screen, now will you?
3. Your cholesterol levels may improve.
Got high LDL, the "bad" kind of cholesterol? Taking an extra 1,000 steps a day may be enough to make a difference. "When you move more, you burn up cholesterol and other lipids in your bloodstream so they have less of a chance of invading and damaging your blood vessels," explains Olson. So it’s that kind of incentive that should have you taking those 1000 steps and hopefully 9,000 more each day!
4. You'll stress less.
Taking a short, brisk walk may really be the best way to clear your head and lift yourself out of a funk. The physiological reason is twofold: When you exercise, your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins-(You Know This). Physical activity also cuts levels of cortisol—a stress hormone that can make you feel lousy and raise your risk of a slew of mental and physical health problems.
5. Your bones will get stronger.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, any type of weight-bearing activity can strengthen your skeleton and fight osteoporosis. Why? Placing weight on your bones makes them work harder. That pressure stimulates cells called osteoblasts, which can turn into new brand-new bone cells.
6. You may lose weight.
OK, so you probably won't shed a ton quickly, but over time there's a payoff. Taking an extra 10,000 steps means you'll torch about 50 more calories a day, or 350 a week, says Nadya Swedan, MD, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. "In about 10 weeks, you'll be able to notice any pounds you've started to drop.
To reap any—or all—of these benefits, you'll need to make extra activity a regular thing. "A thousand additional steps a day really add up, but consistency is key," says Pasternak. Some easy ways to make it a habit include; snagging the furthest (rather than closest) parking spot to your office door, marching around while you're talking on the phone, and ditching your coffee pot so you have to walk to a local shop for your morning cup.
Now the above are just a few examples of what you can do and why you should be taking at least those 1,000 steps each day. But again, you really want to look at getting more physical activity built into your day and that really is all about you.
You know walking is good for you, it’s probably one of the most inexpensive forms of exercise you can do to help yourself get in better shape. So what are you waiting for? Strap on those walking shoes and head on out the door to get your paper, and I don’t mean just by walking down to the end of the driveway. Go ahead and take a walk to that local paper-shop, or convenience store, but DON’T buy a cinnamon bun along with that paper… Walking with a healthy diet in mind will be a post for another day.