The gym routine can become monotonous. And, let’s face it, many of us can’t make it to the gym every day. You mean to get up early and go, but the baby kept you up all last night, and you need your sleep. After work? Sure! But it’s been a long day, and someone has to make dinner.

You do not have to go to the gym to be healthy, fit, and reach your fitness goals.

The Hidden Wealth of Walking

We hear people talk all the time about ‘steps.’ How they haven’t reached their ‘step goal’ yet. Why are people becoming so obsessed with steps? What happened to running, biking, and swimming as the ideals for staying healthy?

Walking has benefits. Not just getting exercise, but it affects us positively in the following ways.
1- Live LongerStudies have shown that people who walk more steps in their lifetime live, on average, seven years longer than those who don’t! And they live those years being healthy and happy due to their walking habit. Seven years is worth a little extra up-time.
2- Be in a Better Mood – We all have those days, but sometimes it feels like those ‘bad mood’ days become weeks. And then you go and workout, and you feel great, positive, and happy! Walking has the same effect. Walking regularly helps put us in better moods, feel more motivated, and have more energy.
3- Cut Through That Sugar Addiction – Sugar is in everything And our bodies have evolved to crave the drug as addictive to our brains as cocaine. Walking helps reduce the cravings for sugar and can help those of us who are trying to cut sugar from our diet. If you feel like you can’t go a day without sugar, try walking whenever the cravings hit.
4- Say ‘Bye’ to Sick Days – That’s right! Walking helps increase the effectivity of our immune systems. People who walk regularly take fewer sick days than those who do not walk regularly. Being sick is never fun, and if you hate missing work, then walking is the best preventative solution.
5- Watch Your Belly Slim Down – A woman’s worst nightmare: belly fat! Walking itself burns more fat than higher impact cardio such as running. If you are trying to get that swimsuit body into shape, walk away that belly fat.
6- Prevent Breast Cancer – We all know someone with a story. Some end well while others do not. Walking not only helps decrease your chance of illness, but it has also shown results in studies to decrease chances of contracting breast cancer. This alone is a great reason to get more steps in your day.
7- Look Younger – While this is limited, studies have shown that people who walk everyday look younger than those who do not. Walking keeps your skin looking young, less wrinkly, and moisturized.

Setting Goals

Becoming successful at anything starts with knowing where you want to go. A goal is a dream with a deadline. It’s a great idea to figure out where you are right now in terms of how many steps you walk a day or for how many minutes you walk. Then, set a long-term goal. 10,000 steps? An hour a day? Think big! Each day set goals to help work your way to the big one. Maybe today, we will get in 5,000 steps. Tomorrow 5,500 steps. Goals hold us accountable for improving every day.

How to Measure Steps

Fitbits are the talk of the ‘stepping’ world. They are cool little bracelets which measure things like steps, heart rate, and calories burned. But they are expensive. Any pedometer will measure your steps, you don’t need to spend a lot of money for just the basics.

How Do You Incorporate More Steps into a Busy Day?

It’s easy to say ‘walk more,’ but it’s another thing to find time to do it. Here are some simple, easy ways to incorporate more steps into your day.

  • Park Further Away – We have all been guilty of being that person to try and race to the front parking spot at the grocery store. But think about how many extra steps we could add to our day by parking at the back! At least 100, depending on how large the parking lot is. If you are in a hurry, then walk faster!
  • Stairs for Days – Skip the elevator. Shun the escalator! Take the stairs. Not only do you get more steps in, but stair climbing is a great cardio workout to help wake you up in the morning.
  • Walk, Don’t Wait – The kids are at soccer practice, you’re waiting for the husband to come pick you up, or you’re in line at the grocery store on Black Friday. Why not use this time to walk? Walk around the park while the kids are at practice. Walk in place at the store (ignore the looks of the non-believers). Walk, walk, walk!
  • Walk and Talk – Long phone calls can either be the best or the worst depending on who it is. Don’t stand in place or sit. Walk around the house, down the block, or in the backyard. Even if you are talking to the more boring, monotonous person, you are still being productive if you walk.
  • Be a Kid Again – Why should the kids have all the fun? Play with them! Tag? Yes, please! Water gun fight? Why didn’t you say so sooner? Get kid time and exercise at the same time. It’s a win-win! (This works great with dogs too.)

Stop reading, get out there, and start walking!