Do you walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day? If not, it's a great health goal to strive for! Japanese researchers were the first to set that number of steps to take a day; it is also about equal to the U.S. government's recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Taking 10,000 steps burns approximately 300 calories and, over time, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and help with the maintenance of a healthy weight. Does 10,000 steps sound like a lot? Don't worry! You don't have to walk all 10,000 at once — and they don't even have to come from what you normally think of as exercise. If you go grocery shopping and walk through the aisles for 45 minutes, you've walked 2,000 steps or so right there! It's easy and exciting to find new ways to rack up more steps!
Tracking your steps is easy with a simple device called a pedometer. Simple attach the pager-like piece to your waistband and let it count your steps for you. While there are expensive pedometers with lots of extra features — like a heart rate monitor and radio, you really only need an accurate one, which you can buy for about $10 to $15 at a sports or discount retail store. Research has proven that people who wear pedometers walk more. The best way to start out is just to wear your pedometer for a few days as you go about your normal activities. This will give you a starting point — the number of steps you take in a typical day. If you're pretty far from 10,000 a day — say you take about 4,000 steps a day — set your first goal lower so it's more realistic to achieve. For example, aim for 5,000 steps a day for the coming week. As you hit your goals, keep setting them a bit higher until you're getting in the recommended 10,000 a day. You'll be surprised at how many steps you can accumulate just doing your daily activities. Don't be surprised to get more and more motivated to move once you see your number of steps rise! Now, who's ready to go for a walk with me?