Walking is one of the most accessible exercises you can do to improve your heart health, lose weight, live longer and boost your mood. If you’re starting a regular exercise routine, it may seem daunting to aim for 10,000 steps a day. The good news is you can build up slowly without drastically altering your schedule — and if you already get 10,000 steps a day, you can still add more.
READ MORE > 50 WAYS TO WALK MORE
These tips help you get at least 1,000 extra steps a day and, regardless of your fitness level, you’ll benefit from being less sedentary, burning more calories, and multiplying feel-good endorphins.
Getting outside in the morning can help improve your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Getting into the habit of starting your day with a brief walk can help you feel more energized, prevent cravings, and get your step count up first thing.
Sitting for long periods increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Luckily, just a 5-minute walking break can counteract the negative effects. Set an alarm on your phone or work calendar to get up and move every hour. You’ll improve your concentration and increase your step count.
Whether you’re catching up with a friend or have phone meetings at work, try walking indoors (or outside) while talking. A 20-minute conversation flies by when you’re walking.
One long walk is great for fitness if you have the time, but you can also split it into shorter sessions. Aim for three mini walks of 10–15 minutes per day, which you can easily fit into a busy schedule to get 1,000 extra steps.
Make it a point to park near the back of the parking lot. Not only will you eliminate the need to circle for the best spot and waste gas, but you’ll also add a significant amount of steps to your day. Do this more than once and you’ll have an extra 1,000 steps in no time.
When doing chores, try to find ways to make it a little more challenging. For example, instead of carrying all of your laundry down the stairs in one trip, make it two. Or hit the stairs for 5 minutes between loads. This helps build muscle and sneak in those extra steps.
Whether it’s a trip to the local library or a coffee shop near the grocery store, pick at least one errand a day you can do by walking. Instead of getting in the car for each errand, park somewhere in between and walk to each place.
Lunch breaks are important to refocus your mind for the second part of the day. Rather than eating at your desk and scrolling on your phone after you’ve been sitting all morning, dedicate at least 10 minutes to getting outdoors and walking. It’s just the mental recharge you need.
Elevators and escalators can be convenient, but they also kill your step count. Take the stairs whenever you can to work different muscle groups and burn more calories. You can even try this 15-minute stair routine to tone your body for a quick workout.
There are lots of ways to enjoy quality active time with your kids, from a quick game of tag to family-friendly walking trails. You can also turn daily walks with the kids into fun outings — try going bird-watching or visiting a new park.
Dogs are great walking companions and training partners to keep you accountable. If you don’t have a pet, see if a local shelter needs help walking their animals. You can also offer to walk a friend’s dog or even just accompany them when they go on walks.
Going for a walk after dinner can aid digestion, setting you up for quality sleep. Some research shows it’s especially helpful for people with Type 2 diabetes, since post-dinner walks help regulate blood sugar levels. It’s also a nice time to connect with your partner or family without distractions.
Instead of being sedentary when watching your favorite TV show, get up and move during commercial breaks. Walk in place, do a quick set of stairs or even try a few sets of jumping jacks for extra steps and an additional calorie burn.
Shopping at your neighborhood farmers market is an excellent way to support local businesses, buy in-season produce at its peak and get extra steps while browsing the different stalls. Walk the perimeter of the market before going down individual aisles to maximize your step count — you can also do this at any market, including at the grocery store.
Staying hydrated is important for weight loss and keeping the body functioning at its best. Regularly sipping water also helps up your step count by forcing you to get up and go to the bathroom more frequently. If you can, pick a bathroom further away or even one floor above for a few extra steps.
Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.