Walking 10,000 steps a day is not easy, but it is life changing. If you’re putting that number on your Fitbit, you’ve walked at least five miles. It also means you have been moving on your feet for at least one hour and 40 minutes throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a life changing goal, walking 10,000 steps a day should be on your short list. There are seven ways this goal can change your life:
There’s lots of research linking consistent exercise with improved health and a lower risk of dying from certain diseases. If you can walk one mile in 20 minutes, you’re going fast enough for your pace to be exercise. That unlocks all these possible health benefits.
To meet the minimum activity level the CDC recommends, all you need is to walk at that 3mph pace for 30 minutes. That’s only 3,000 steps! If you can do that for an hour every day, you’ll be at the upper end of the CDC recommendations which means an even greater investment in your health.
The average person walks almost 4,000 steps a day. These are mostly functional steps. While beneficial, they likely don’t count as exercise because they are probably at a much slower pace. Setting a 10,000 steps a day goal means you are intentionally walking 6,000 steps more than the average person and likely at a faster pace.
One side benefit to better health is gratitude. In 20 years your future you will be very grateful you decided to invest in your future health!
Exercise lowers stress. This isn’t a future benefit. It’s a RIGHT NOW benefit. When you are walking at 3mph, or faster, you are reducing the level of your body’s stress hormones.
If you have a daily goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and at least 30 minutes are at that 3mph pace, you are building into your day a stress free oasis. Imagine the life changing impact that will have!
On most days, I take three walks. I have a longer walk in the morning, a medium walk in the middle of the day, and a varying length walk with Ava in the evening. These built in stress breaks has a big impact in how I live my every day life. I can dive into a project or challenge with the knowledge I’ve got something that will help me de-stress before too long.
This is one of my favorite benefits of walking at least 10,000 steps every day.
Exercise helps us think better. This a current and future benefit. Lots of research indicates when we exercise our memory gets better and we think better. There’s also research showing we can even be more creative when we are walking.
I want to be mentally sharp for as long as I can be. Like many families, ours has experienced cognitive decline. It’s hard watching once sharp people we love start to lose their brain power. There’s no guarantee that walking 10,000 steps a day will prevent that, but It’s certainly worth the investment.
But, there are also brain power benefits TODAY! I’ve written many times about how walking helps me solve problems and find creative solutions. And, moving at least 10,000 steps a day gives me plenty of opportunities to think through challenging issues and find answers or at least get clarity on what to do next.
I don’t get perfect sleep, but I get pretty good sleep. My Fitbit Sleep Score usually rests in the mid to upper 80’s. Occasionally, I even climb into the 90’s. I’m pretty passionate on improving my sleep. I can’t imagine how difficult sleep would be if was sitting ALL DAY. I don’t even want to experiment with that.
And, yes, there is research confirming a direct link between how much we exercise and how well we sleep. Exercise even helps how quickly you fall asleep.
If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your sleep, walking 10,000 steps a day is a great goal to have that could change your life in this area too. That said, the experts say it’s better to get those steps earlier in the day. Vigorous exercise right before bedtime can be counter-productive to your sleep.
This might be the biggest reason most people walk 10,000 steps a day. They either want to lose weight or at least keep from gaining weight.
So, how many calories will you burn if you walk 10,000 steps a day? The answer depends on a lot of different factors. How much you currently weigh is a big one. So are how fast you’re moving and whether you’re walking on a flat surface or up a hill. And, of course genetics matter in this equation too.
But, here’s the bottom line. You’re going to burn more calories walking 10,000 steps than you are walking 4,000 steps.
One caution…if you are concerned about weight management, don’t give yourself permission to eat more just because you’re walking more. This is one reason why people who exercise a lot can have a hard time losing weight. What we eat actually has a bigger impact on weight management than how much we move.
Walking 10,000 steps is not easy. Achieving a goal is rare. Only 8% of people who set a goal actually reach it. If you set a hard goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and consistently do that you are breathing rare air.
This is a wonderful benefit of walking 10,000 steps a day…improved self esteem. Go ahead and enjoy that!
WHAT TO DO TODAY
Walking 10,000 steps every day is hard and it will change your life. But, getting there takes time. It’s not smart to go from 4,000 steps to 10,000s in one day. Your fitness capacity isn’t ready for that big a jump and neither are your emotions.
It takes time to build an exercise habit that sticks and eventually becomes fitness momentum. Get started today with this free download, The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. It will help you set the right daily step goal for TODAY and help you eventually reach 10,000 steps a day!