50 Ways to Walk More
The American Heart Association recommends walking 10,000 steps a day to improve health and decrease the risk of heart disease. That’s about five miles. One study found that walkers who got their 10,000 steps a day lost 10 pounds after eight months of walking, along with dropping their blood pressure and losing two inches from their waist size. (See also: 25 Reasons to Take a Walk)
Walking 10,000 steps a day sounds like an impossible number — until you start adding up all the steps you take in a day. The steps add up quickly if you do enough little things to get there, such as walking instead of driving on an errand, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking around the block. But unless you're doing a lot of the little things, you won't get to 10,000 steps.
When I first got a Fitbit, I quickly saw that walking from the couch to the kitchen wasn't getting me far, though I did discover that I walked about 2,000 steps around the house each day. If you need more ideas than just walking around the house, here are 50 ways to get in your 10,000 steps per day.
1. Buy Comfortable Walking Shoes
This is the first place to start because without good shoes, your feet may hurt, and you're less likely to walk as much. You don't realize how ill fitting your shoes are until you've walked five miles. I went to an athletic shoe store to have my feet measured and was videotaped walking on a treadmill so they could see how my feet hit the ground. I bought shoes with good arch support and learned that I was previously buying shoes a half size too small. You'll be surprised at how a good pair of shoes can encourage you to walk more. (See also: Stuff We Love: Clarks Shoes)
2. Buy the Right Equipment
There's more to walking than good shoes. Comfortable shorts, shirts, and socks are a must, and you may also need sunscreen and a hat.
3. Get a Pedometer
I've found the Fitbit to be a good measurement of how far I walk each day. There are many other products, including apps for your phone or iPod, for instance, that measure your steps. A pedometer can be attached to your belt, waistband, or put in your pocket. Some can be worn around the wrist. (See also: The Benefits to Wearing a Pedometer at Home)
4. Walk the Dog
You shouldn't get a dog just for this benefit, but an anxious dog is a good incentive to walk at least 5,000 steps per day. I usually walk our dog twice a day, averaging 4,000 steps per outing.
5. Walk (or Run) an Errand
Instead of driving to the neighborhood Redbox to rent a movie, as I used to lazily do, I now walk about 3,000 steps roundtrip when I want to rent a movie. You can probably walk more errands than you realize, though a trip to the grocery store may require a car, or a few friends, if you're going to carry more than a few bags home.
6. Cook Dinner
Instead of driving to a restaurant for dinner, save money and gain steps by cooking in your kitchen. Even in the small kitchen at my house, walking from the fridge to the stove and back, and doing other cooking tasks, equates to an easy 1,000 or more steps. (See also: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies)
7. Walk at Lunch
If you've got an hour for lunch, you probably don't need more than 30 minutes to eat your meal. After that, go on a walk and leave the office. You'll likely get to 5,000 steps before the lunch hour is over.
8. Have a Walking Meeting
Instead of sitting with a group of coworkers for a meeting, make it more of a social event by having a walking meeting. You'll have better one-on-one conversations and the brainstorming may be a lot better because you're thinking while moving around. This could add 2,000 steps or so for a 15-minute meeting. (See also: 7 Things to Change About Meetings)
9. Walk in the Pool
If your legs are aching and you can't get too far, then try walking in a pool. You won't be able to wear a pedometer, of course, but you can add in the time and distance later by estimating how many steps you took, based on how long you were in the pool. Walking in water is less stressful on the joints, and this may allow you to build up to walking more on land.
10. Walk to Work
If you take the bus to work or other form of public transportation, try getting off a few blocks early and walking the rest of the way. The same goes for the trip home. Or better yet, walk the entire way to work if you can.
11. Walk to the Bus or Subway Station
Instead of taking a bus or driving to a subway or bus stop, walk from home to the station where you normally commute from. Or get off the train or bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
12. Walk to School
If your kids are walking to school, join them and get exercise together as a family. If you normally drive them to school, consider walking at least one day a week.
13. Bring a Friend
A walking partner can be a strong incentive to walk daily, especially when it's raining or there's another excuse you've come up with.
14. Join a Walking Group
Check with your city or civic groups to see if there's a walking group in your area. There are several hiking clubs around the country.
15. Go to the Mall
Many malls open their doors a little early for walkers, giving them a safe place indoors to walk. It's also a good place to walk to avoid bad weather outside. If you're shopping, walk the length of the mall before going into any stores.
16. Change Your Route
If you walk the same route every day, you'll quickly get tired of it and may stop walking for awhile. Change it up by exploring different areas of your neighborhood and beyond. If necessary, drive to a new area you want to check out on foot. (See also: Benefits of Changing Your Routine)
17. Seek Out Interesting Places to Walk
On your days off, plan walks at places you'd like to explore: the beach, woods, a nearby mountain, or anyplace else you've thought about going but never get around to.
18. Listen to Podcasts
I have an iPod Touch that I subscribe to podcasts on, but many devices will download podcasts that can be listened to whenever you're on a walk. I listen to about a dozen podcasts each week including great storytellers, economists, and comedians, and there are hundreds of topics to pick from.
19. Listen to Music
If you really want to pick up the pace of your walk, add some up-tempo songs to your playlist.
20. Take the Stairs
This should be a no-brainer, but if your goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day, then you should never use an elevator or escalator.
21. Take a Break
If you're stuck at your desk for most of the workday, take a 10 minute break a few times and go for a quick walk around the building. Your legs will feel better by being stretched, and you'll add 1,000 or so steps to your daily total.
22. Get a Stand-Up Desk
This may not be comfortable all day, but a stand-up desk can get you on your feet for a few hours. You won't do much walking there, but it's more than you'll get sitting at a desk. (See also: 11 Standing Desks You Can Actually Afford)
23. Put a Stepper Under Your Desk
Amazon has all kinds of steppers for sale, from $9 to $100 or more. Put one under your desk and you can walk without anyone seeing you move.
24. Have Kids
As any parent with young kids can attest, having toddlers to chase around the house will certainly add a few thousand steps to a day.
25. Carry Shopping Bags in One at a Time
Whether it's groceries or bags from the mall, carry them into the house one at a time to gain more steps.
26. Share Your Journey
Many walking apps allow walking distances to be shared online with friends, providing support for your daily walks and a chance to brag about how well you're doing.
27. Walk While Brushing Your Teeth
Instead of standing in front of the bathroom mirror for a few minutes while brushing your teeth, walk in place and see how many steps you add.
28. Walk Around the Block
If you've got five or 10 minutes to spare and don't have anything to do, take a walk around the block. It beats resting on the couch if you want to reach 10,000 daily steps.
29. Walk 500 Steps Before Going to Bed
After turning off the TV, or whatever your final task is before going to bed, vow to walk 500 steps around the house before going to bed. You can check to make sure all of the lights are turned off, the doors and windows are locked, the refrigerator is closed — whatever it takes to get 500 steps before you call it a night.
30. Park Far Away
When you go to a mall or shopping center, park as far from the entrance as you safely can. You may not want to do this at night if there's poor lighting, or if you do, ask a security guard to walk you to your car.
31. Take a Family Walk After Dinner
After dinner is a great time to take a walk. It can stop you from eating more, it's a great time to be outside, and the whole family can do it together.
32. Meet Friends for a Walk, Not a Coffee
Instead of having a lunch or coffee meeting with friends to catch up, suggest a walk in the park. (See also: 10 Ways to Hang Out With Friends on the Cheap)
33. Walk During Commercials
If you're sitting and watching TV, get up during the commercials and walk around the house. If you record a show with commercials, let them run and walk around. Or stop the show and take walk breaks.
34. Go Window Shopping
This can be a fun walk, especially around Christmas. Go for a walk in your town's shopping area. It's a chance to see what's for sale, as well as meet people and be seen around town.
35. Write a Letter
Instead of sending emails, write a letter and then walk to a mailbox in your neighborhood to mail it from. Or better yet, walk to your local post office and mail it. (See also: 20+ Reasons to Write a Letter)
36. Take Dance Lessons
Check out dance classes offered by your city's recreation department or another organization.
37. Play Video Games
Not games where you sit on the couch, but the Wii or Kinect where players stand up and move during video games.
38. Take the Long Way to the Bathroom
If it's not an emergency, take a longer route when walking to the bathroom at work. Or walk to a bathroom that's one or more floors up or down from your office.
39. Pick Up the Litter
Walk around your neighborhood with a trash picking tool, wear gloves, bring a cardboard box plastic bag, and pick up trash. Your neighbors will thank you, and they might even join you.
Don't sit down and wait at the doctor's or dentist's office. Stand up and walk around.
41. Take an Extra Lap at the Grocery Store
When I go to Costco, I first walk around to explore before coming in with a cart. It adds 2,000 steps to my walk through the store, and I get a better idea of what I want to buy. The same thing can be done at the grocery store by walking around the outer aisles before starting to shop for what's on your grocery list.
42. Walk While Waiting for Your Kids
If you're waiting for your kid at some event, instead of just sitting there, take a five-minute walk and then pick them up. Or arrive five minutes early so you can go for a short walk.
43. Visit Your Co-worker
Don't send that email or make that call. Walk over to your co-worker's desk and have a conversation. You'll likely resolve the issue quicker.
44. Walk and Talk on the Phone
If you get a phone call, take it while walking.
45. Set the Alarm
Set an alarm on your phone to go off every two hours during the workday. If you're not already walking, then get up and go for a short walk.
46. Skip the Drive-Thru
Instead of using the drive-thru to get your morning coffee, park your car at the far end of the parking lot and walk inside the store and order. This goes for anything you buy while sitting in a car. Get out and move.
47. Walk the Cart Back
Don't use the cart return in the parking lot after you're done shopping. Walk the shopping cart back to the front of the store.
48. Take a Neighbor's Dog for a Walk
If you don't have a dog to take for a walk, as mentioned above, then ask a neighbor with a dog if you can walk theirs. Most dogs need and enjoy a lot of exercise, so both the dog and owner will be thrilled with someone else taking the dog for a walk. (See also: 9 Gifts to Give the Neighbor You Like)
49. Walk for Charity
There are all kinds of charity walks, so join a few and see how you like them. You don't have to go fast. Or join a running event and walk the route.
50. Do Housework or Yardwork
Get rid of the maid and gardener and do the vacuuming and leaf raking yourself. Chances are there's always some work that needs to be done around the house. Set aside 30 minutes a day to do some task that requires moving around.
The general idea is to keep moving. It's a good goal to have, and a lot better for your heart and overall health than sitting on a couch for hours at a time.
How do you get your 10,000 steps a day?