Why Steps Matter
Part of embracing a healthier lifestyle has been moving more. I’m not a picky eater, but I’m a picky excerciser, and while I’m having fun exploring lots of new options (have I mentioned how glad I am that I tried Reformer Pilates?) I also know myself well enough to know that I don’t love loud music, yelling, lots of bouncing, and crowds.
Realistically, I could force myself to do those things for awhile, but they’re unpleasant enough to me that I know they won’t be part of a healthy lifestyle change I can live with long-term.
But walking? That, I love.
And that’s a good thing. Because steps are easy to track these days, and while your step goal may differ widely from your neighbor’s, when you’re tracking it’s easy to see when you haven’t been moving quite as much one day (or week), and set goals to increase your movement.
Today I wanted to share some tips on tracking steps, and how to sneak more steps into your day.
How I track
It’s easy to find inexpensive pedometers if you’re not ready to make a commitment to something a bit more expensive. You may be surprised to learn that your cell phone can track your steps, though, either through a built-in health app or one from your play store. Many smart watches include this feature as well.
Several years ago I invested in a small, clip-to-your-pocket Fitbit that syncs with my home computer and an app on my phone. A few years after that I upgraded to one that I wear on my wrist as a watch, and it’s a really great fit for my needs.
I love that the app syncs with other apps I use for my wellness goals (like MyFitnessPal) and gives me reports and charts on my steps over time. I’m a visual person, and the dashboard tracking different goals such as miles, active minutes, and STEPS really inspires me to get moving.
And it buzzes me 10 minutes before the hour to remind me to get up and stretch my legs a bit throughout the day. I absolutely love that feature.
But perhaps the thing I’ve come to love most about my Fitbit is the groups of friends that join me in challenges each week. Every now and again I get a little notice that someone is only a few hundred steps ahead of me, or behind me, and it just makes me want to catch up!
I honestly don’t care too much about winning each week, but it’s really fun to be walking with someone even if they’re halfway across the country, or taking a late lunch.
Sneaking in Steps
Getting more steps doesn’t have to mean scheduling an hour or two to work out every day. It’s easy to sneak a few in here and there, and they add up quickly. And if you think that doesn’t count, new research says it does!
Here are a few sneaky ways that work for me:
Try to get moving every hour
I mentioned my Fitbit buzzing me during the day to remind me to get 250 steps before the clock hits the hour. If you don’t have a Fitbit, that’s not a problem! There are apps that can help (like Stand Up! for Apples or Rest Reminder for Andriods/PCs), or set a simple timer!
Walk and talk
Some meetings require you to sit and discuss. You have to take notes, or pull up documents on your computer. But sometimes discussions (either by phone or in person) can just as easily happen while you’re walking around the block. Take advantage of those!
Inconvenience yourself a bit
I only fill up my water bottle at the closest fountain when I’m in a hurry. Usually I use the fountain down the hall instead. The same goes for the ladies room. I take the stairs whenever I can, and instead of dropping something in office mail I usually take a few minutes to personally deliver it. People enjoy the customer service. I enjoy the steps (and fresh air).
Take the long way
This is really just a continuation of the last hint. If you’re already walking, take the long way! I take the bus to work, but once I get there I walk all the way around campus to get to my office. I start the day feeling energized, and the fresh air wakes me up. It’s great. Park a little further from the store entrance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Walk a dog
If you have a dog, that’s a perfect excuse to get out and get moving. If you don’t have a dog, find out if there’s someone nearby who could use some help with their pet due to health or age.
Let’s do lunch
Make a consistent lunch appointment with yourself, and fit in a walk. If you can eat and walk that’s great! If not, plan at least part of your lunch break for taking a walk. This doesn’t just sneak in a few steps, it helps wake you up a bit in the afternoon.
Pace the floor
When you’re waiting for your ride, or for company to arrive, or for the water to boil, do a little pacing instead of sitting around while you wait. Grab a dust cloth if you want to feel like there’s a purpose to your pacing. I should really do the dust cloth thing. The protective layer of dust I leave on all of my furniture has gotten a bit thick.
Watch and walk
This is an easy one to fit in, and you’ll be amazed at how many steps add up during your favorite program. Jump up and walk in place (or around the house) during the commercial breaks. HA! I crack me up sometimes. Who watches shows with commercial breaks anymore? Seriously though. Walk during one episode and see what happens. If you’re binge watching your favorite program, walk even more!
Listen and walk
I love to read. Nothing beats curling up in a cozy chair with a great book. But if you need to get a few more steps in, listen to a recording of your favorite books instead. You can order your books in audible formatting from most online book stores, or check them out from your local library and listen right on your phone while you walk.
Take a picture, it lasts longer
If getting out and getting steps feels a bit boring, bring along a camera (or use the one built into your phone) and watch for pretty little things to capture. Some of my very favorite photos on this blog were taken on walks (like the one above). For a bit more motivation, start sharing some of your photos on social media! #whatisawonmywalk
If you’re like me, and making healthier lifestyle choices means moving more, give walking a try! It doesn’t have to be painful, and as you can see, you can sneak it into even to a busy schedule.
How do you sneak extra steps into your day?