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10,000 Steps a day: Walking Your Way to Better Health, But is it for Everyone?

Updated: May 29


3 women enjoying a walk

We've all heard the magic number: 10,000 steps a day. But is this a one-size-fits-all recipe for optimal health? Let's explore the pros and cons of aiming for this daily step count.


Pros: A Walk in the Park (Benefits):

2 women hiking

Improved Physical Health: Walking regularly strengthens your heart, improves circulation, and helps manage weight. It can also lower the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers.


Boosted Mental Wellbeing: Walking can reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. It can also improve sleep quality and overall mood.


Increased Energy Levels: Regular physical activity, including walking, can leave you feeling more energized throughout the day.


Stronger Bones and Muscles: Walking helps maintain bone density and muscle mass, both of which are crucial for overall health and mobility, especially as we age.


Cons: Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket:


4 eggs in a basket

The Individual Factor: 10,000 steps might be too much for someone starting out or with certain health conditions. It's important to listen to your body and gradually increase your step count.


Focus on Intensity: While steps are a good metric, incorporating some higher-intensity activities like brisk walking or jogging can further enhance the health benefits.


The Risk of Overdoing It: Pushing yourself too hard, especially when starting, can lead to injuries like shin splints or overuse muscle soreness. When I first started out, I found that little and often was the key and it didn't take long for this oldie to build up to 10,000 steps daily. Sometimes, I could register 2000 steps without leaving the house, I am one of those people that paces up and down when I'm on the phone and all these steps count.


Quantity vs. Quality: Aiming for 10,000 steps shouldn't distract from a healthy diet and other lifestyle habits. Remember, a well-rounded approach is key to achieving optimal health. Think of your steps as one piece of the puzzle – for a complete picture, consider nutritious meals, quality sleep, and stress management techniques to create a foundation for a healthy and vibrant you!


Finding Your Perfect Pace:


Instead of a rigid 10,000-step target, consider a more personalized approach:


Start Slow: Begin with a comfortable step count and gradually increase it as your fitness level improves.


Listen to Your Body: Take rest days when needed and avoid pushing yourself to pain.


Find Activities You Enjoy: Explore different walking routes, parks, or join walking groups to keep things interesting.


Focus on Consistency: Aim for regular walking, even if it's not always 10,000 steps. Every step counts!


The Takeaway:

Walking is a fantastic way to improve your overall health and well-being. While the 10,000-step goal can be a motivator, focus on finding a sustainable and enjoyable walking routine that fits your individual needs and preferences. Remember, consistency is key!


Additional Tips:

Blue trainers

Invest in a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers to avoid injury or discomfort. When I was looking for the correct footwear for myself, I was surprised how expensive decent walking apparel can be. However, I bit the bullet and I can honestly say that paying the extra has been well worth it. I can now walk further and for longer than ever before.


Fitness Trackers:  


Man checking his fitness tracker

These devices offer a variety of features, including step counting, distance tracking, and even sleep monitoring. However, they can be expensive.

Step Counter Apps:  Several free apps can track your steps using your phone's built-in motion sensors. While convenient, carrying your phone with you all the time might not be ideal. It's important to note that these apps might not work as accurately indoors.


My Experience:

I went for a fitness tracker, but found it wasn't really essential for me. However, the sleep tracking feature was helpful in understanding my sleep patterns, which is valuable for someone with mild sleep apnea like me.


Ultimately, the choice is yours!

If you're highly motivated by detailed data and fitness goals, a tracker might be worth it. But if you're just starting out or cost-conscious, a free step counter app can be a great way to get started.


Bonus Tip:

The fact that you can rack up 2,000 steps without even leaving the house shows how even small activities can contribute to your overall daily step count!


A good walk versus the Gym:

Walking offers a unique appeal for many people compared to the gym. It provides a refreshing change of scenery and a chance to connect with nature, all while getting exercise.


Gyms, while fantastic for targeted workouts and equipment access, can feel confining. Walking allows you to explore your surroundings, breathe fresh air, and maybe even discover a new favorite route. Plus, it's completely free! While gyms offer undeniable advantages, sometimes the simplicity and affordability of a good walk is exactly what hits the spot. On a personal level, I along with my other half belong to a gym but we sometimes find it really difficult to motivate ourselves to go however, since we started walking, we actually look forward to our daily exercise regime even when the weather isn't so good, you just have to dress accordingly.


Oh and by the way, a few words on Exercise Motivation:


Exercise Motivation

Getting started with a new exercise routine can feel daunting. Don't worry, you're not alone! Sometimes even the best intentions need a little boost.  If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, consider trying our self-hypnosis download for exercise motivation. It can help you unlock the power of your subconscious mind to overcome negative thoughts and build lasting exercise habits. Imagine feeling energized and excited to move your body – our download can help you get there!

Sharon Shinwell Clinical hypnotherapist

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