Finding time in your day to complete 5,000 steps can seem like an impossible task, especially if you’re juggling work, a social life, cooking, cleaning, down time, *gasps*, and getting enough sleep. However, I’m here to tell you that walking daily doesn’t have to be the chore you think it is. Whilst you may think walking won’t make a difference to your health, think again. Laura R. Jeffrey, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Centre, states “A lot of people think that a one-hour workout justifies sitting the rest of the day. That is not the case. Sitting for long periods can increase the likelihood of blood clotting and cause back problems. Being active throughout the day is much better for the circulatory and muscular system and can also improve focus and productivity.”
You don’t need to take an hour out of your day to walk three times round the block. You don’t need to do a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session every day. Here’s how you can trick yourself into getting your steps in without the fuss.
Walk to the shops
If you need to pop to the shops and it’s within walking distance, why not ditch your car and walk? This way you can walk with purpose knowing you’re completing not one, but two tasks. Walking with purpose is more likely to get you out of the house than promising yourself you’re going to go for an aimless walk later.
I’m not talking about ballroom or the tango, I’m talking hands in the air, uncoordinated dancing to your favourite song. Dancing is a great way to get your steps in and then some, and it requires little to no effort. With one song being an average of 3 minutes, you can no longer use the old excuse of “I don’t have time.” If you find that you’re not much of a dancer, that’s ok too! You can always follow along to a dance workout on YouTube and have just as much fun. So, whether you’re waiting for your pasta to boil or the microwave to ping, you can always make time for this one.
Marching in place
Since we spend so much time on our feet doing daily tasks, this is a great way to get your steps up, especially if you find yourself stuck inside all day. You can march in place doing a lot of things, whether that be brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, or watching TV. This is a great way to integrate your 5,000 steps into your daily routine, and who knows? Maybe it’ll become like muscle memory to you.
Buy a floating desk
This one is for all the people that work from home and are sick of sitting on their bum all day. Whilst this needs a little more financial investment, buying a floating desk is a great way to keep you on your feet and to keep you moving. If you want to take it one step further you can buy a treadmill and walk at whatever pace you like. One prime example of someone who’s invested in this is Lisa Erickson, otherwise known as @the_walking_worker on TikTok. Using her floating desk and treadmill, she walks on average a whopping 17-29 miles a day, and it’s all in a day’s work. Whilst the majority of us don't walk that much daily, it highlights that you can achieve anything you want to, and that your 5k step goal is very much doable.
Incorporating 5,000 steps into your daily exercise routine can sometimes feel tedious, but when you have a more than motivated companion you may just learn to enjoy it. Walking your dog isn’t just beneficial for your furry friend, but it’s a great way for you to get outside and hit your step goals. Using games and toys to switch it up will make it more fun for both of you. Whether it’s a morning walk in a country lane or a quick one in your local park, your best friend will have you completing your step goal with minimum effort.
Whilst it can be difficult to fit a walk into your day, why not try building a routine and going for one at the same time every day? A post-meal walk is not just a great way to get your steps in, but a 10-minute walk after eating has been linked to aiding digestion and improving regulation of blood pressure. Creating this small habit will not only make it easier to achieve your goal, it’ll also give you an allotted time to go for a walk each day. This will ensure consistency and keep your day organised.
When out and about, take the stairs
If you find yourself at your office, leaving your apartment complex or taking the tube, why not take the stairs? Whilst it can be second nature to see an escalator and jump on it, opting to take the stairs will only take a few minutes more. Taking the stairs is not only a way to get your step count up, but it also strengthens the muscles in your body and has been linked to reduce the risk of a stroke.
Take screen breaks
If you’re working from home, it can be easy to stay seated for the whole duration of your shift. However, screen breaks are vital for our overall health. Every hour, set an alarm to take a screen break and within this time get up, stretch your legs, and go for a walk around the house.
Whilst we tend to avoid these, doing household chores are a great way to get your steps in as well as keeping a clean environment. Hoovering, gardening, and doing your laundry are just some of the ways you can get the most steps out of your chores. The best part is it doesn’t have to be boring; put some music on and you’ll be done in no time. Multiple birds, one stone.
Hide your phone
If you find yourself drawn to your phone when you have things to do, what better way to keep yourself focused than putting it in a different room. This way, if you want to give yourself a phone break it requires more than just taking it out of your pocket. This will not only give you a reason to get up and stretch your legs, but it will also stop you from mindlessly scrolling for long periods of time. Sounds like a win/win to me.
Buy a mini trampoline
Whilst this may not seem like it would be beneficial for your step goals, a 1980 NASA study found that jumping on a mini trampoline - otherwise known as rebounding - can reduce stress on the body, and has been found to be more efficient than running. Rebounding for as little as 5 minutes a day has also been linked to increasing lymphatic flow, which is the system that drains toxins from our bodies. This is a great way to get your daily exercise. You can jump on (quite literally) with ease whilst watching TV, listening to a podcast or your favourite music. So, what are you waiting for? Go order yourself a mini trampoline!
Invest in a step tracker
Whilst this tip also requires some financial investment, often times we’re playing a guessing game at our step count, which can make it hard to track our progress. Investing in a step tracker is great for accuracy and knowing the difference between 4,999 and 5,000 steps. Being able to measure your progress and see how many steps you’ve taken throughout the day can be an effective motivation boost - enough to hit your target. Whether you use a smart watch or a Fitbit, this is a great way to keep track of your steps and motivate you to reach your 5k goal. If you don’t have any money to spare, you can always use free step tracker apps; they just won’t be as accurate as a step tracking device. You can find some useful free apps to help you on your fitness journey here.
Remember, exercising doesn’t have to be a difficult and drawn-out process. Think about the small steps and changes that you can make to your daily life, because these are exactly what’s going to get you closer to hitting your 5,000 goal every day. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. It’s ok if you don’t meet your goals immediately; the key is to implementing small habits that can lead to a sustainable and positive change.