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10,000 STEPS A DAY

How many steps do you walk each day?

You may have heard the general recommendation to walk 10,000 steps per day. This is a good goal for someone just getting started. You simply start tracking your steps and gradually increase over a period of time.

How far is 10,000 steps? An average person has a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet. That means that it takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile; and 10,000 steps would be almost 5 miles. A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. For these people adding steps has many health benefits.

Wearing a pedometer or fitness tracker is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bed time. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised how many, or how few, steps you get in each day.

A reasonable goal is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day. Example: If you currently average 3000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3500 each day. Your goal week two is 4000 each day. Continue to increase each week and you should be averaging 10,000 steps by the end of 14 weeks.

There are many ways to increase daily steps. Here are few suggestions. Use your imagination and come up with your own list:

  • Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend
  • Walk the dog
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park farther from the store
  • Better yet, walk to the store
  • Get up to change the channel
  • Window shop
  • Plan a walking meeting
  • Walk over to visit a neighbor
  • Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding

Continue to track your daily steps and/or mileage; and keep notes on how you feel, how your body is improving, or other changes you are making to improve your health.

If you are in very poor physical condition or at any point you feel that you are progressing too rapidly slow down a bit and try smaller increases. If you have any health concerns seek your physician's advice prior to starting or changing your exercise routine.

Comment: We have outlined the standard 10,000 step program because so many people ask about it. This is a good program to help get people motivated, or to get sedentary people moving. Although simply adding steps does provide health benefits we recommend that some of your daily steps be through aerobic activity.You can start with as little as ten minutes per day and gradually increase. Try to build up to a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic paced exercise (walking or another fitness activity) 5 to 7 days per week. See Beginning A Fitness Walking Program for more information.

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