January is usually the time of year when people start getting into healthy exercise, and perhaps adopting an ambitious new exercise regime. But what if burpees, weights, and buckets of sweat aren't absolutely necessary? What if you could get fit just by going for a nice walk every day?
For years, the message has been to get 10,000 steps a day. This is the default goal for most of today's best fitness trackers. The origins of this number are actually surprisingly arbitrary – the initial scheme was launched at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and the Japanese character for 10,000 looks a bit like a person walking, so that's what they went by.
Fortunately, subsequent research suggests that the brand-inspired personality wasn't far wrong. 10,000 steps is enough to make a big difference in your overall health if you keep it up.
One Study 2022 Focusing on adults aged 40 to 79, they found that walking up to 10,000 steps per day is associated with a lower risk of death, cancer and cardiovascular disease, for example. Consistency is key, and the NHS says even 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can have an impact Great health benefits.
I decided to ditch the gym for a week and try walking 10,000 steps every day instead. I wanted to see how easy it was to incorporate into my daily routine, and how it compared to other fitness regimens I've tried over the years. Here are 3 things I learned during Walking for Fitness Week:
1. You'll have to change your routine (but not too much)
According to my friend Google, 10,000 steps is equivalent to about five miles or eight kilometres, depending on the length of your legs and so on. I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of my office; Just over a mile each way means I can achieve half my walking goal just by doing my daily commute. What I called in my mind “accidental steps” — to the coffee machine, up and down the supermarket aisles trying to find vegan pesto — also piled up more quickly than I expected.
However, I had to adjust my routine and add a few extra walks so I could meet my goal each day. That's the point, isn't it? If you don't change anything nothing will happen. Overall I found it really possible.
This kind of goes without saying, but how far you can achieve 10,000 steps per day will vary from person to person, depending on how walkable your surrounding area is, what your commute looks like, and so on. But the beauty of this approach is that it is very flexible. Which brings me to my second point..
2. No admin required
Walking is perhaps the most simple exercise you can do. Provided that you wear weather-appropriate clothing and fairly comfortable shoes, you can generally decide to go for a hike anytime you wish. (I'd say a fitness tracker is very helpful too, so you're not relying on guesswork, so you get that nice dopamine hit when your wrist buzzes to let you know you've met your step goal each day.)
Compare that to my usual routine at the gym. For an aerobics class, I need a complete change of clothes (which need to be washed later), I need to be mindful of the right time to shower and change, and I need to physically get to the right place at the right time. A 45-minute class takes at least an hour and a half out of my day, and I have to plan everything else around that.
Although I missed the intensity of my workouts during my 10,000-step week, there's no doubt that this gentler, often more convenient approach is more convenient. If I want to walk, I can get up and quickly, I walk.
3. It will make you feel better
After a week, I can't make any final calls on whether this has improved my health, but I… Can I tell you it had other positive effects. My job is desk-based, and I can get used to working during my lunch hour when I'm busy. This tends to lead to less productive afternoons – around 3pm, I generally find it difficult to concentrate and also feel hopeless about it. It moves.
During the week of walking 10,000 steps a day, I went out every lunchtime to walk around a bit, even when the weather wasn't great, and not only did I feel smug, I also felt more excited about the afternoon when I got back. There is a lot of research that supports the importance of getting out of the house Psychological health, Improve sleep Thus, you kill two birds with one stone with this exercise system.
Can just walking make you fit?
That can certainly help, but the 10,000 steps a day goal is mainly aimed at inactive or unfit people who want somewhere to start. It's also great for older or less mobile people for whom squats and sprints are likely to do more harm than good. It's an accessible, non-intimidating way to introduce regular physical movement into your routine.
The fact of the matter is that many of us work desk jobs, and if you work from home or commute by car, you can easily get by without having to move on a normal day. You have to make a conscious decision to build exercise into your routine, and this is a great way to do it. To really improve your fitness levels, if it suits you, you can increase the intensity or distance of your walk or run, perhaps on the couch for a 5k..
This article is part of the TechRadar website Get fit for 24 weeks Of fitness content.
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