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10,000 Steps a Day to Keep the Doctor Away

About 40 years ago in Japan the idea was developed that walking 10,000 steps a day will help you keep fit and healthy without the need for additional exercise. So ideally, between the first plundering steps to the bathroom in the morning, to the last few as we crawl into bed at night, we should have walked 10,000 steps, which is roughly 5 miles or 8 kilometres.

OK, miles and kilometres make it sound a little scary so how about turning 10,000 steps into time. I’ve found I usually walk a kilometre in about 12 minutes at a decent pace, so I could easily walk a bit slower and still do a kilometre in 15 minutes. So I could walk my whole 10,000 steps within 2 hours!

The even better news is that most of us walk around 4,000-6,000 steps a day without even thinking about it. Even the laziest of us who sit at desk all day do around 2,000.

But one thing’s for sure; you won’t know how many extra steps you should be taking, unless you know how many you’re already walking.

Q: How do I find out how many steps?

A: A Pedometer, or step counter.

From £14.67 you can buy a basic pedometer, which will count your steps when activated and clipped to your waist. Primarily pedometers count steps, but they can also include extra features so you can see distance walked, calories, time, have a panic alarm etc...

Once you have a pedometer use our Daily Step Chart (at the bottom of this page) to record the number of steps you take each day and then work out your daily average for the week.

Getting to 10,000 steps a day

So now you know how many steps you normally walk a day it could just be a case of cancelling the milkman and walking to the corner shop each day. Or if you’re stuck at a desk all day, you could be miles off 10,000 steps a day.

If you do have a way to go to reach the 10,000 steps a day target, build up slowly. Aim for an extra 10% or 500-1,000 steps a day. This way you can ease the change into your routine and stick to it, you're also much less likely to do yourself an injury by doing too much, too soon.

You may also find setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R objectives helpful as well as motivational. See my example below:

  • Specific I will aim to do an extra 1,000 steps a day on top of my normal 6,000.

  • Measured I will remember to put my pedometer on as part of getting dressed in the morning.

  • Agreed Some girls in the office are doing this with me so we can motivate each other.

  • Realistic It’s only an extra 20 mins walking a day.

  • Timed I should be doing 7,000 steps a day by next Sunday.

  • Enjoyable I’m going to treat the dog for longer walks, take the kids on an adventure at the weekend and walk to the new restaurant I want to try.

  • Recorded I’ll put my Daily Steps Chart on the bathroom door so I wont forget to fill it in before I go to bed, and plot my weekly progress on my 10,000 Steps A Day Graph.

Where to find the extra steps

Below are a few ideas on where to find those extra steps to get you to 10,000 steps a day:

  • Park at the far end of the car park

  • Instead of dropping the kids off in front of the school, park a couple of streets before it and walk them the rest of the way

  • Don’t go round the shopping centre or supermarket in a logical order, you’ll be amazed how far you can walk going back and forth

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator

  • Give the dog an extra 5 minutes on his walk

  • Stop emailing colleagues in the same office, instead go over and talk to them

  • Go for a walk during your lunch break, walk to get your lunch or to find somewhere to eat your lunch

  • Get up and do something, run up and down the stairs for example during TV ads

  • Walk to the corner shop instead of driving or popping in on your way home

  • Walk to friends houses instead of driving

  • Get friends and family out of the house for a game of football or frisbee

  • Take friends or family on a picnic or go on an outing somewhere and explore

How to record your steps

Below is a Daily Step Chart to record your results. It will automatically average your steps for the days you've walked each week. You can print a larger version to fill in offline. I’ve also included a printable graph so you can plot your weekly progress till you reach your target of 10,000 steps a day.

Daily Step Chart

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Day 1
Day 2
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

10,000 Steps Graph