Ten Thousand Steps

Mary Tweed
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There is currently a real buzz about the concept of completing 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) a day. Maybe this idea has caught on due to the rise in wearable fitness monitors, or maybe the messages about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle are beginning to have an effect. Either way, I am hearing more frequently that clients are adopting this goal and incorporating it into their everyday life with noticeable effects.

One of those clients began walking 10,000 steps a day in May this year and has lost 4 stone so far. She sets her alarm early so that she can squeeze in a quick 1.8 mile circular walk before work. She tries to get out briefly during her lunch hour and then finishes her day with the same walk as the morning. On days when her work has prevented her from exercising as much as she would like, or when the weather has been too uninviting for an evening stroll, she watches the television whilst marching until she has achieved the full 10,000 steps.

The average person walks about 3,000 to 4,000 steps everyday whilst going about their life. The NHS has recently challenged the nation to increase that figure to 10,000 steps in a bid to improve our health. Well known health benefits of walking include reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes, improved heart health, enhanced mood, reduced blood pressure, keeps you feeling young, weight management, improvement in sleep quality and some studies even show it wards off dementia - no wonder the NHS is promoting walking.

Another client, who also works full time, embarked upon the 10,000 step challenge having discovered Nordic Walking. She and her husband now make time to head out for a walk together every evening, instead of watching the television and she feels more energetic and reports higher levels of concentration than before. Like many people today, she has a smart phone, which came loaded with a health app, which tracks the number of steps taken on any given day. It also displays the average number of steps over the past week and month, as well as translating the steps into average distances over the same periods.

There are many simple ways of increasing activity and thus your step count. Hop of the bus a stop or two earlier and walk the remainder of the route; shop locally and walk to those shops; take the stairs rather than the lift; or invest in the ultimate personal trainer - a puppy!!

One is far more likely to adhere to a new behaviour if it is enjoyable. There are many ways to ensure that your new walking habit is a fun part of your daily routine. You could team up with a friend or if you really want to enhance the sociable element of walking you could join a walking group. If you prefer to walk alone, it could be a chance to focus on your thoughts or to plug in an ipod and listen to music or catch up on a podcast or two. Some people are motivated by having a purpose to their walk and may relish the opportunity to explore the footpaths of East Anglia, country parks or beautiful National Trust estates.

At Nordic Walking East Anglia, we recommend that you gradually increase the number of daily steps you take. Of course, we also suggest the use of Nordic Walking poles, as this turns the simple act of walking into a whole body workout, whilst reducing pressure on the joints and exacerbating all the benefits of ordinary walking. The challenge has been set - will you take it up?

See Also: Sitting Disease Walking Mindfully Exercise Makes you Brainy

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