Walking and daily movement play a huge role in staying healthy. It has become a common goal among many Americans to hit the marker of 10,000 steps per day. Although this is not a magic number, it can be a good goal to work up to if you are endeavoring to improve your health and daily activity.
The benefits of daily walks are immense. Taking the time to walk each day can improve your mental health, reduce stress, build strength, facilitate weight loss, and help you to retain mobility as you age. Increasing your daily steps even has the potential of adding years to your life.
Taking the First Step
With all the potential benefits of increasing your steps and your daily movement, why not start today? The first “step” to increasing your movement is simply making the decision to get up and walk. Once you’ve done that, you can begin slowly. Walking a quarter of a mile is a great start. That will bring you to approximately 560 extra steps in your day. Increase your distance goal a little bit each week as you work up to a larger number of steps. Soon you will form a daily healthy habit and reap the benefits of your increased activity.
It can be hard to get motivated to go for a walk when you’ve been sedentary. Fatigue and aches and pains may play a role in the many reasons people may have to not increase their daily steps. It is important to take care of those aches and pains and do the best you can to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This may mean a trip to see your doctor or a change in diet or your sleep schedule. If you can, set a time each day to go for a walk and stick to it. Soon it will become a habit with likely noticeable health benefits.
Moving toward 10,000 Steps a Day
In addition to scheduling daily walks, there are additional simple ways to increase your daily step count. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking near the back of the parking lot are two good examples of ways to increase your daily steps during normal activity. Scheduling reminders in your phone to get up and take a short walk can also help get you into the habit of movement.
If you have friends that would go for walks with you, a great way to stay movement motivated is to make it a social thing. Walks with friends can help to keep you accountable and be an enjoyable activity. Another option for motivation is getting a pet that needs to go for walks. Caring for an animal that needs exercise can help you remember to get out and about regularly.
Increase your Steps without Increasing Foot Pain
Increasing your steps does not have to mean increasing foot pain. Your footwear is very important when you are trying to increase mobility and steps. Making sure you have supportive shoes will cut down on or even prevent foot fatigue and pain after long walks. Some excellent walking shoes from New Balance are the New Balance 840, New Balance 847, and New Balance 928. Some avid walkers also find great comfort in the Bondi or Clifton by Hoka One One.
In addition to supportive shoes, many people also benefit from adding insoles to their walking shoes to add even more support. Powerstep Insoles, Cadence Insoles, Form Insoles, and Superfeet Insoles, all have excellent options for adding support to your walking shoes. If you have diabetes or arthritis, then you may want to try the 10 Seconds Pressure Relief with Met Pad Insoles to add a new level of comfort to your walks. Some people may even consider custom insoles for added support.
To conclude this post on the importance of walking and movement, take note that studies show that walking and a higher step count can directly lower mortality rates. This is a fact recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The conclusion from a study completed in 2020 states: “Based on a representative sample of US adults, a greater number of daily steps was significantly associated with lower all-cause mortality[i].” This alone should be enough of the reason to get up off the couch, put on your walking shoes and begin the step counter. For many people, 10,000 steps a day is a reachable goal. Time to stop reading and start walking!
[i] Saint-Maurice PF, Troiano RP, Bassett DR, et al. Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA. 2020;323(12):1151–1160. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1382