As research has frequently mentioned, one of the many keys to remaining healthy is to have an active lifestyle. One of the recommendations to achieve this is to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, which equates to about 5 miles. Make note that with this recommendation, that you do not have to get all 5 miles done in a single setting or activity.
The problem that I noticed was that I work a 9-5 desk job, and there’s really no walking involved for that line of work. After researching and hearing about the consequences of sitting or lack of walking, I decided to make some adjustments to my habits to get more steps in per day.
I have a phone and activity tracker that track the number of daily steps. On a typical day where I went from home to work to home without stopping anywhere else, I would log about 2,500 to 3,500 steps per day. That is way below the recommended 10,000 steps per day. So here’s how I chose to try to gain more steps per day without hitting the treadmill or park.
Hack 1) Park In The First Empty Spot
If you really want some steps, park in the space that is closest to the road and not the store or restaurant that you are going into. Now personally I do not try to park at the door or ride around for finding the closest spot and I also do not park at the very end of the parking lot. Usually, I'll park in between the road and the store. The rule that I do follow is that I do not drive down more than two (2) aisles when looking for a parking space. Not only does riding around looking for the closest parking space waste gas, it also and reduce the number of steps that you get. This adds about 100-200 steps per occurrence.
Hack 2) No Drive-Thrus
If I go out to eat and the restaurant has a drive through, I skip it and go inside to the counter. Through trail and error from doing this, I have found that by going inside instead of going into the drive-thru, I’m actually able to get in and out faster than those in the drive through. If you believe my experience is flawed, there is a survey that was done by QSR Magazine that stated that the drive-thru line wait time increased from 2013 to 2014 by 40 seconds. In addition, sitting in the drive through wastes gas unless you are driving an electric, hybrid, or auto-stop vehicle. Next time that you go to a fast-food restaurant, as you walk into the restaurant and take note of the last car that is in the drive through line and see if you walk out of the restaurant before the car gets out of the drive thru. This adds about 100-150 steps per occurrence.
Hack 3) Take The Stairs
If you have the option to take the stairs or the elevator, the default I recommend is to take the stairs. However, if there are no stairs then take the escalator and walk down it. Now if you work or live in a tall building and cannot take all the stairs to your floor, then go as many flights of steps that you can tolerate and take the elevator the rest of the way. This adds about 10-30 steps per floor.
Hack 4) When You Gotta Go, Go Further
At my job, the restroom is about 20 steps from my desk. The next closest restroom in the office building is about 75 steps, including a flight of stairs (see Hack 3). Just by going to another floor, that’s almost 3 times the number of steps. Round trip, that is about 150 steps and traversing two flights of stairs. If your home has multiple stories with a bathroom on each, then when you have to use the bathroom, go to the bathroom on a floor that you are not on. If your home is single story, then go to the bathroom that is furthest from you or make multiple trips to and from where you are before you go. This adds about 110 steps at work and 40 at home each time that I go.
Hack 5) Drink More Water
I know what you are thinking… water has nothing to do with steps. Actually it does though. By drinking more water, you will go to the bathroom more often. When you go to the bathroom more often, then you can apply Hack 4 to get more steps. Before using this hack, I would probably go to the restroom once, sometimes twice, while at work. Now that I drink more water, I go at least two or more times per day. Each time I go, I apply Hack 3 and 4.
Hack 6) Set Reminders, Pedometer Alerts
I have a pedometer that I wear on my wrist. If it does not detect that I have taken any steps within the last hour, it will buzz and remind me to get some steps in. When it does go off and I am at work, I will get up to use the restroom (Hack 4), get some water (Hack 5), or talk to a coworker in person. If I am on a conference call when it goes off, I will stand up, stretch, and take some steps in my cubicle. The amount of steps this hack will add will vary.
Hack 7) Walk Around Your Car Or House Before You Go In
One day, I was waiting at a red light located near a fire station. I noticed some of the firefighters went around to the back of the fire house on the right side. After about 15 seconds, some firefighters came from the back of the firehouse on the left side. However, it was not the group that had gone around on the right. About another 10 more seconds, the group I saw that went around on the right side was coming around on the left side and it occurred to me that they were doing laps. Firefighters cannot leave the firehouse while on shift, because they have to respond when a call comes in, they ran laps around the firehouse as their physical activity. Applying this same strategy, I will sometimes walk around by car before getting in it or walk around my house before going inside. During the walk around the car, I pay attention to the tires and look for any scratch marks or dings that may have appears. When walking around the house, I look at the roof and exterior to see if anything significant has changed. This adds about 25 steps when walking around the car and about 150 steps when walking around the house per occurrence. The amount of steps this hack will add will vary.
By doing a combination of these hacks, I've been able to increase my minimal step range from 2500-3500 range to the 4000-5000 range. I know you think that is not a lot, but keep in mind that every step counts. Hopefully, this has inspired you to take small steps in adding steps to your day. If you have additional steps (no pun intended) that you use to get more steps per day, add them in the comments below.