Walking 6-8k steps per day (aka about 3-4 miles) can have some major benefits. Multiple systemic studies have found that walking was associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality. It can also boost immune function, curb cravings for sweets, improve sleep, and lower stress.
Meet Lola. Lola only gets 3,000 steps per day, has been feeling sluggish and having trouble falling asleep. Should we jump Lola up to 10k steps per day? No. Why? Because we want to give small, attainable goals that will stick as a permanent behavior. For her first week, Lola’s goal will be to add 500 extra steps a day, which is roughly a quarter mile, and takes approximately five minutes to achieve. FIVE MINUTES!!! If she sleeps 8 hours, and is awake for 16 hours, that means she has 960 minutes in a day. Adding a few more steps a day is less than 0.6% of the waking hours she has to spend.
You are Lola, but not… because you.. are you. So let’s take that 0.6% of time out of your day and add a few steps. I created a sample chart for you. Use the link below, plug in whatever your current average steps are and add 500 steps approximately two weeks at a time, notice in subsequent weeks we increase our steps at a faster rate. These are your weekly goals. Consistency is crucial here, you do not want to get 10k on Monday and then only be able to do 1k the rest of the week. If you find this progression is too easy, increase the number of steps per week (think 750 or 1k instead of 500) Stick to the plan.
If you do not have a means of tracking steps (99.9% of smartphones have a pedometer function) you can do this by distance. On top of whatever walking you get from your daily activities, do an extra quarter mile walk, per day, in the first week. Remember this only takes a few minutes!! Repeat the same distance, per day, the second week. Third week, take a 1/2 mile walk per day, and finally in the last week take a mile walk per day. As the walking goal increases, you can split this up into two or more walks.