Benefits of Walking: How 10,000 Daily Steps Leads to Lifetime Health [HCP]

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Benefits of Walking

One of the biggest tools for success also happens to be one of the simplest ones.

Walking each and every day.

You do not need to run marathons or triathlons to get a significant health improvement.  Instead you get a lot of fitness and emotional gains from a small amount of daily walking.

In today’s Habit Change Profile, I will cover the many benefits of walking.  You’ll see how it can improve your  mental, physical and emotional health.

Plus you’ll discover a few ideas on how to motivate yourself to walk each and every day.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  So let’s take the first one…

The Benefits of a Daily Walking Habit:

Walking is something most people can do, regardless of their individual level of fitness.

Regardless of whether someone has an active and physical lifestyle or whether the normal physical activity is a short trip from the couch to the refrigerator, increasing the amount of daily walking has significant benefits for both short and long term.

Here are just a few of the benefits of daily walking.

  • Low impact way to get in shape and lose weight. Walking between 7500 and 10000 steps a day is one of the keys of fitness.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Decreases Hypertension, reducing risks for heart attacks and strokes. Walking daily has been shown to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Reduces Stress.
  • Increases balance and endurance.
  • Increases sexual desire and satisfaction.
  • Slows mental decline.
  • Improves the mood and battles the effects of depression.
  • Gives you time to think. Daily walking can act as a form of meditation. It gives you time to mull over ideas. If you have problems at work or at home, a nice walk could help you to come up with solutions.
  • Reduces fatigue.
  • Once you form the habit, it is easy to turn it into a lifestyle change. Of all forms of fitness and exercise, walking has the highest compliance rate.
  • It can make you smarter. Daily walking can make you sharper and smarter and reduces the chances for long term mental disease because it helps to increase blood flow through the brain.

11 Steps to a Daily Walking Habit:

1. Set a daily target. 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day is a decent goal for daily walking. “Walk more” is not specific enough! The power of small wins where you can make a “difficult” but “achievable” goal, such as 10,000 steps a day, means that you constantly challenge yourself. This will help to make walking an ingrained habit. You get positive reinforcement each and every single day when you reach your goal.

2. Make it a 30 Day Habit Challenge (30DHC). One thing I preach about here on the Develop Good Habits (DGH) website is the simple process of the 30 day challenge. If you force yourself to do something each and every day for 30 days, it begins to become an ingrained habit. For 30 days force yourself to walk each and every day. No excuses. You will find that you feel the positive effects and it becomes a habit in this short periods of time.

3. Keep a daily log. You can use a notebook, spreadsheet, digital app, website or write it on the wall. How you keep track of your daily walking does not matter. All that is important is that you keep track each and every single day. Set daily and weekly goals. Track your results and see how you improve over time.

4. Set reminders to walk. Making a goal of 10,000 steps a day does not mean you need to set aside a block of 2 ½ hours for a walk. Set reminders on your one of your electronic devices (computer, cell, etc.) to buzz you and let you know to take a break and a quick walk. A simple 5 minute walk each hour throughout your working day will put you on the path to reaching the daily walking goal, as well as making you feel better throughout the day (and likely increasing your productivity).

5. Buy a Pedometer. It is important to get an idea of how much your walk each and every day. It is also important to all of those logs you will be keeping. There are quite a few pedometers on the market: simple pedometers, pedometers that will do the log-keeping for you, and even ones that make a “game” out of your daily walking.  A Pedometer is a simple tool, but an important one.

Check out this article on the Best Pedometers, where I discuss 4 different types of pedometers and you can see the best pedometers for Cheapskates, Techies, Multi-taskers and Gamers/Social Addicts.

6. Increase incidental walking. Incidental walking is the walking you do each and every day, just to get from Point A to Point B. It is actually quite easy to increase chances of reaching your 10,000 step goal by increasing your incidental walking. Do not search for the closet parking spot, park far away and walk to the stores. If you need to pick something up at the grocery store, don’t drive ¼ of a mile – walk it.

7. Make it fun. One of the good things about walking it that it CAN be enjoyable. Bring your iPod. Vary your location. Take a walk on the beach one day, a walk through the city the next and a walk in the forest the day after that. You can take pictures, meet people and have a good time. Walking does not need to be a chore. Remember it is a positive lifestyle change, and it can become a habit that’s quite enjoyable.

8. Buy a good pair of sneakers. If you are going to walk a lot, make sure you have comfortable and well cushioned walking shoes. Your legs and feet will thank you, and the lack of pain and discomfort will make the process go smoothly.

9. Socialize and walk. If you are able to find some friends or family to walk with. This is a good idea for two reasons. The first is that others will help you to stick to your plan. The second is that walking with others can be simply more fun. A nice stroll on with a friend or family member will seem more enjoyable than trying to reach an arbitrary goal.

Walk with someone and the walk will be over before you know it. Even if no family and friends are interested, you could join a local “walking club” and find others who will be interested in walking and socializing.

10. Drink more water. It is important to drink water before and after your walk (for long walks: during the walk). Staying hydrated helps to keep you feeling great and increases the be positive effects of your walking.

11. Reward yourself. If you have been good about reaching your walking goals, reward yourself. Buy that new dress, go out to the movies or do something to “reward” your efforts. (Sibebar: grabbing a “Big Mac” might be counterproductive here)

Walk your way to Fitness and Mental Health

Many people have grand ideas of fitness and exercise, only to fall short over a long period of time. Walking has the highest “success ratio” of any new exercise and fitness regime. It is an easy lifestyle change, which brings about huge benefits.

When people begin to walk more frequently they often find it a fun and enjoyable part of their routine. They look forward to each and every day, rather than being something they “have to do” to stay fit and healthy.

Over time the intensity and duration of the walks can be increased. Remember that for calorie burning purposes, you burn just as many calories walking a mile as you do running it. (The run just gets it done quicker).

There are quite a few benefits of walking you will enjoy from making a minimum of walking 10,000 steps part of your regime.

It is an essential part of your physical and mental health. Daily walking will make you feel better and become more productive and happy.

I recommend trying these steps on your very own 30 day challenge  and seeing for yourself just how much of a positive effect a bit of daily walking can have on your life.

Want to discover more benefits of walking and get a firm plan on how to make a walking habit to increase lifelong fitness and health?

Check out my new eBook: 10,000 Step Blueprint available on Amazon now!

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10 Responses to Benefits of Walking: How 10,000 Daily Steps Leads to Lifetime Health [HCP]

  1. Sue May 31, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Getting a pedometer and keeping track of how many steps I get in per day – 10,000 minimum, has greatly improved my health. I like your point that I don’t hear of too often, that walking can make you smarter because of increased blood flow to the brain. I’m hoping to work my daily steps up to genius level. ;-)

    • S.J. Scott June 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      Excellent, Sue! I love the 10,000 steps idea. I’m more of a runner myself. But I think having a metric is a great idea to “gamify” the good habit of getting more exercise.

  2. Susan Campbell June 4, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Hey Steve, very nice. Ironically, I just published my latest Kindle book on this topic :-) I find that people think that 10,000 + steps is too much to ask. No one really wants to do the work necessary to be healthy and fit, let alone to lose weight. Challenging to get people to change (as with anything), but thanks for help spreading the word!

    • S.J. Scott June 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Susan,

      Arrgg. More Competition. (I am working on an eBook about the subject too!) Anyway, good luck with yours anyway! ;)

      It really is funny that so many people think 10,000 steps is such a huge and insurmountable number, but it really isn’t difficult with minimal effort and a little bit of planning, and the health effects are HUGE. I really hope people are getting the message.

      • Susan Campbell June 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

        Yeah, I’m huge competition buddy, look out! Well, you beat me to the punch on the healthy habits ebook so I guess we’re even. Now stay out of my niche! :-)

        • S.J. Scott June 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

          Haha. Don’t worry — not planning on too much healthy/exercise. It’s more about talking about different frameworks for making permanent habit changes.

  3. To lose weight June 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Great tips! One of my friends recommended an Apple app to me recently. It’s used to record how many steps I walk every day. He showed me briefly how it works. It looks very easy to use, but I have had a chance to try it yet. Now your article reminded me about it. I will come back to share my experience once I use it.

    • S.J. Scott June 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      That would be great. I am actually writing an article now about the best pedometers to use for this very thing. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the app versions.

  4. Michal June 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    I’ve already said it: you are a genius of breaking things down. I’m sure you could make also an extensive post about “how to breath” :D
    Walking is as natural to me as breathing and frankly with my lifestyle I have no choice. You made me think that it can be a factor that I don’t complain about my stress, sleep or sex life :D
    After this post I’m very curious how many steps I do on daily basis. I have to check it out!

    • S.J. Scott June 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

      Yeah, I’ve never really thought about “step walking” up until recently. The other day, I got the FitBit One and have been carefully monitoring my # of steps. What I found is this mentality can help improve fitness, because I’m now looking for ways to get more activity in my day to “pad” these numbers.

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