Can’t Take More Steps Each Day? Take Faster Ones Instead
An entire industry of fitness-tracking devices has sprung up to support the expert-recommended goal of taking 10,000 steps daily. And while that’s a great amount to shoot for, a new study has shown that if you can’t get in quite that many steps a day, there are other ways to reap the same health benefits.
The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that if you (like the average American) can get in only 5,000 to 7,000 steps daily, the trick is to pick up the pace for about half of them.
Walking at a brisk pace (which the researchers defined as 100 or more steps per minute) should be your goal for at least 30 minutes a day, in order to reduce a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors. The other key finding was that no matter how many steps you get in daily, it pays to try to reduce the amount of time you spend not moving at all.
Need help achieving those goals? Here are some tips from Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist, to get you moving.
How to limit sedentary time:
Invest in a standing desk (or one that lets you both sit and stand) so that you sit less at work.
Set a reminder on your phone to get up and move around at least once an hour.
Use the restroom on the floor above or below your office — and take the stairs there and back.
Take a conference call on your headset and walk around the office or a nearby park while you talk.
Keep your stationary bike or treadmill in front of the TV to sneak in some exercise instead of just lounging on the couch.
How to get in more brisk walking:
When you’re walking, focus on taking quicker steps, not longer strides.
Keep a pair of sneakers in the car or in your office so you can slip them on and take advantage of any opportunity to get in some faster-paced walking.
Speed walk through your errands. Get your heart rate up as you walk between stores. Going to only one store? Park in the farthest corner of the parking lot and speed walk to the store.
You’ll know you’re walking at the right pace if you can carry on a conversation but would be out of breath if you moved any faster.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.