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10,000 Steps a Day… Do I really have to?

10,000 Steps a Day… Do I really have to?

We’ve all heard the same warning: If you’re not walking 10,000 steps a day, you’re not walking enough. But is that really true? And should you feel guilty if you’re not hitting that 10k goal every single day?

The short answer is: absolutely not. In reality, your day is already filled with work, classes, parenting, or other important activities. You also may live in an environment where taking long walks isn’t safe or comfortable. Furthermore, depending on your age and physical condition, walking might not be a suitable activity for you.

Sure, you could stress yourself out trying to hit this arbitrary number, and there are countless examples of YouTubers trying out a 30-day challenge of 10,000 steps to inspire you. There can be benefits to regularly walking 10,000 steps, but there are other things you can try that may fit your lifestyle more.

Some alternatives to a 10,000-step walking goal

If you’ve been beating yourself up about not getting in thousands of steps each day, you’re in luck. Try some of the following alternatives to get you moving:

1. Set a goal… ANY goal

One of the reasons the 10,000-step goal works for some people is not the number of steps, but simply the challenge of hitting any daily goal at all. If you’re currently walking 2,000 steps a day, challenge yourself to hit 3,000 steps for the next 7 days and see how you feel. You can keep increasing the step count every week if you’d like, or settle on your personal daily minimum.

2. Choose activities that suit you

If walking isn’t feasible for you, there are other ways to improve your physical fitness without hours of commitment each week. For example, short pilates or chair workout videos can get your heart going in a matter of minutes, and they’re short enough that you wouldn’t dread doing them every day. If you have a VR headset, you can also get yourself moving with games like Beat Saber or VZFit and have fun at the same time.

3. Try “exercise snacking”

No, this doesn’t mean making exercise more fun by combining it with junk food. The concept of “exercise snacking” is simple: At least 3 times throughout the day, do some form of exercise for 2 to 5 minutes. This could be climbing a few flights of stairs before every meal, doing squats or leg lifts while you wait for the microwave, or spending 2 minutes on a mix of jumping jacks, squats, and wall push-ups. These snack breaks help you overcome mental barriers to exercise, and can be done almost anywhere.

If you’re not able to hit 10,000 steps a day, don’t beat yourself up about it! Walk as much as is reasonable for your lifestyle, and vary your activities to maintain your physical health. Building a routine of regular movement, even in short bouts, is much more beneficial to your well-being than stressing yourself out over a step goal.

Is it your boredom that's keeping you from getting more steps each day? Try some of our ideas for solo walks!

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