A few years ago, it became conventional wisdom to aim for walking 10,000 steps a day. Now that pedometers have become part of our daily lives, we’re often curious if hitting the target really helps us live better.
Several studies show that walking more can have positive health benefits. This is why it’s a good idea to set a goal and work towards it.
Table of Contents
There’s a reason that health organizations worldwide recommend that people walk at least 10,000 steps a day. That’s because walking can improve your fitness and increase your energy, which are the two most important factors for staying healthy and feeling good.
It’s not easy to find time for regular exercise, but making it a habit can have major benefits. You’ll feel more energized, have better moods and reduce your risk of illness and disease.
You’ll also burn more calories while you walk, which can help you lose weight and prevent obesity. The amount of calories you can burn depends on your body weight, the intensity of the walk and how long you walk for.
If you’re unsure of what your daily goal should be, try these tips from experts:
1. Set a realistic target for your fitness level and stick to it.
Having a goal that you can reach will give you more motivation and keep you focused on your exercise routine. For example, if you’re just starting out, a target of 5,000 steps per day can still provide significant benefits.
2. Make a plan for how to meet your daily step goal.
To stay motivated, set up a reminder that will pop up on your phone or email every time you hit the target. This can help you get out of the house more often, and it may even inspire you to find new ways to get your steps in.
3. Start small, then scale up your steps gradually.
To keep yourself motivated, start with a smaller goal than you think you can achieve and then scale it up as your fitness improves.
4. Be patient, and don’t give up when it seems hard to meet your goal.
The most important thing is to continue to challenge yourself and find ways to add activity into your day.
5. Take breaks when you need to rest or eat.
Taking breaks while you walk is important because it helps break up the monotony of your routine and can make it easier to hit that daily step goal. You can break up your walk into small increments, such as a 10-minute walk or two 15-minute walks.
Lower Blood Pressure
Several studies have shown that walking 10k steps a day can lower blood pressure. One such study found that participants’ average systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly after six months of daily walking. Using Apple Watches, the study tracked the number of steps taken by 638 adults with a history of high blood pressure.
For every 1,000 daily steps taken, participants’ systolic blood pressure was 0.45 points lower on average. This amount makes a difference between blood pressure that is considered normal and elevated. The findings were reported in the February 2019 edition of the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.
According to the researchers, a healthy person’s systolic blood pressure should be below 120 and their diastolic blood pressure should be below 80. A person who has low blood pressure that doesn’t cause any symptoms doesn’t usually need treatment, but if your low blood pressure is dangerous and causes you to faint or become less alert, you should call your health care provider immediately.
Other health problems that can cause your blood pressure to drop include dehydration, severe diarrhea, vomiting and overuse of diuretics. Infection or loss of blood, such as from an injury or severe bleeding, can also lower your blood pressure.
If you have low blood pressure that causes you to faint or become less alert, your health care provider will check your vital signs (temperature, pulse and blood pressure) frequently to determine the underlying cause. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and your symptoms, but some simple lifestyle changes or medicines to treat a health problem may work for most people with low blood pressure.
A new study shows that walking an extra 30 minutes a day is associated with lower mean blood pressure among adult African Americans with newly diagnosed hypertension. The results of the study showed that participants’ systolic and diastolic pressures decreased significantly after six months of daily walking, controlling for age and body mass index. Compared to the control group, those who were advised to walk an additional 30 minutes a day had a systolic blood pressure reduction of 9.0% and a diastolic pressure reduction of 2.33% at the end of the trial.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
One of the biggest benefits of walking 10k steps a day is that it can lower your risk of heart disease. This is especially true if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
If you’re not already walking enough, there are a few simple ways to get started. Start by setting a goal and track how many steps you take each day with a tracking device, like your phone or watch.
You can also try walking a little bit every half hour to make up for the time you spend sitting down or watching TV. Moving just two minutes each half hour can lower your concentrations of blood sugar, insulin and fat in your blood.
This can help your overall health and reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. This Heart Foundation funded study found that people who walked just two minutes every half hour reduced their concentrations of these substances in their blood by almost 30 percent.
While the number of steps you need to walk each day can be daunting, it is important to remember that small changes will add up over time. So, rather than trying to fit in a massive walk each day, try doing smaller amounts throughout the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking laps around the house when you’re watching a TV commercial.
Compared to those who took fewer than 7,000 steps a day, those who walked more had a 40% to 53% lower risk of mortality. This was a companion study to an earlier Vanderbilt University Medical Center study that showed that walking 8,200 steps a day lowered a person’s risk of a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease, by 40 to 50%.
According to Jakicic, most adults can easily work up to 10,000 steps per day. But he cautions that you should talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program. It’s best to let them know if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are currently taking medications, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or blood pressure medication.
There are many benefits to walking, from increasing your energy levels to reducing your risk of heart disease. And, of course, walking can help you lose weight as well.
While it is not the only way to lose weight, it can be a good place to start. Taking 10,000 steps a day can be a great way to increase your physical activity and improve your overall health, and it’s easy to get started.
It can also be a good reminder to keep moving throughout the day, rather than sitting for long periods of time. In fact, a study found that people who walked an average of 4 miles a day were less likely to become obese or suffer from sleep apnea and acid reflux.
The actual number of steps you take can be hard to track, so a pedometer or fitness app is an easy way to track how many you walk each day. Once you’re comfortable with your totals, set a daily goal and aim to increase them each week until you reach the target.
A lot of people who are trying to lose weight and get in shape struggle with the idea that they need to spend hours at the gym or go for a jog. However, walking is actually a much more accessible form of exercise for most people and can be done at home or in the office.
There are so many ways to add more walking into your life – from putting the remote on while you’re cooking dinner, making a point of getting out of the car in the morning or taking a lunchtime stroll. By adding these small changes to your routine, you can gradually build up to walking 10k steps a day.
One thing to note is that how many calories you burn while walking depends on your body type and the distance you travel. In general, heavier people use more energy to move than lighter ones.
So while 10,000 steps a day can be a healthy and effective goal, it’s important to realize that it won’t be enough to help you achieve your goals. In order to be successful in losing weight and improving your health, you need to work with a fitness professional to create a plan that’s right for you.