9 Ways to Squeeze in More Steps Every Day (TIME)

Posted: Jan 12, 2023 in In the News

This article was orginally published by TIME on January 12, 2023.


Every day for the past decade, I’ve tried to dethrone the family walking champ: my 67-year-old dad. Despite my youthful advantage—he has more than 30 years on me, as he’s quick to point out—I haven’t logged more steps than him once. I find this to be both mortifying and a point of vicarious pride; his fitness is remarkable. It’s also excellent motivation to find creative ways to finally out-walk him.

My dad and I compete using our favorite pedometer app, which displays each day’s steps in a bar graph. (While we both wear Apple Watches, we like the app best for logging the entire day’s steps, and keep our phones on us all the time.) If you’ve barely moved, your results for the day show up in a disapproving red. If you land somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 steps, it’s a milder orange. And once you reach 10,000 steps per day, the graph becomes green and showers your phone screen with confetti as you jump up and down (and maybe forward; more steps). We send each other screenshots at the end of the day, and while I hit 10,000 at least a few times a week, he exceeds 20,000 steps every single day.

Fitness experts say that really, both of us are winning: Striving to increase your step count by any amount is almost always a good thing. “Walking is probably the most basic, most fundamental thing that nearly everybody has the ability to do,” says Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic. “It allows us to get our heart rate elevated, and to build up our aerobic endurance. It helps control our blood pressure, it helps control our cholesterol, it helps with weight management, and it helps with blood sugar control.”

Walking is a low-impact activity, which means it’s gentle on the joints—and unlike other types of exercise, there’s no learning curve to do it properly or safely. Research indicates that it can improve body mass index, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and stroke, and slash the chances of early death. According to a study published in 2012, walking for about an hour a day can cut the effects of weight-promoting genes in half. Another study found that just a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate, while another yet suggested that people who walked at least 20 minutes a day, five days per week, logged 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. Clearly, there are more reasons than not to take a walk.

Generally, the more steps you aim for a day, the better. But don’t worry if you fail to meet the 10,000-per-day benchmark. “That was a number thrown out there really as more of a marketing ploy,” says Cedric X. Bryant, president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. “If individuals can get about 7,000 steps or so, they’re going to be doing a pretty good job of hitting the mark.” Of course, it depends on your own personal profile, he adds: Someone who currently does little to no daily activity will benefit from logging just a couple thousand steps per day. “It takes a very small dose to elicit a pretty nice response.”

Read the full article here.

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