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Habit 2: Walk More

Even if you workout at the gym for 1 hour a day and do that 7 days a week…

If you sit on your bum behind a computer, in the car, at a table, on the couch, or in your bed for the remaining 23 hours of your day then you are STILL sedentary.

Moving more throughout the day is one of the easiest and most reliable ways of losing weight and dramatically improving your health.

Getting a few more steps in each day is a very easy and do-able way to “adjust the dial” and increase your health and fitness efforts.

The benefits of walking more:

Don’t believe us?

According to Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint, some of the reasons you should be walking more include:

  • It helps reduce body fat.
  • It improves glycemic control (better blood glucose control and more stable insulin levels after eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich meals).
  • It improves triglyceride levels and lowers blood pressure.
  • It’s good for your brain, (cognition, memory, academic performance, creativity, and logic tests).
  • It reduces stress and boosts immune function.
  • It prevents falls in the elderly.
  • It gives you a chance to think and can be a form of meditation.
  • It keeps your buttocks engaged with the world, because excessive sitting causes glute inactivation and atrophy which brings about back pain, instability, and reduces strength.
  • It’s well tolerated by people with arthritis and many other health conditions who might not otherwise be able to exercise. Remember a little bit of something is still better than nothing.

So how about we bump sitting less and moving more a little higher up our priority lists?

How much should you walk?

Research for public health have established that:

  • Those who take 5,000 steps a day or less are considered sedentary and at a higher risk for obesity, disease, and early death.
  • Those who take 10,000 steps a day or more are considered active and typically have less body fat and better overall health.

For some people, 10,000 steps might seem ridiculously easy (especially if you have an active job) but for most people, it’s rather high at the beginning (and for some, it’s just about impossible).

Even us at Sleekgeek spend most of our time working from home behind our computers or on our phones… If we didn’t push ourselves to deliberately get out and walk more, we would likely only get 2,000 – 3,000 steps on average.

So we understand, it’s hard! (But do-able with some effort and planning.)

We recommend using this as a guide:

  • 4,000 steps a day (beginner – someone who lives a VERY sedentary lifestyle).
  • 6,000 steps a day (intermediate – someone who lives a moderately sedentary lifestyle).
  • 8,000 steps a day (advanced – someone who lives a moderately active lifestyle).
  • 10,000+ steps a day (elite – someone who lives a very active lifestyle).

If you’re interested in increasing your steps in a more structured and gamified way, you can check out the Sleekgeek 30-Day Step Challenge.

If you just want to start but aren’t sure how many steps to aim for:

  • Determine your current daily average step count by tracking your steps for 7 days, adding them up and then dividing the total by 7 to get your daily average.
  • Then, aim for an amount that is 2,000 – 3,000 steps more than what you are currently walking.
  • Finally, slowly increase your goal over time (there’s no rush, it’s more important to be consistent at “something” than inconsistent at “perfect”) until you are somewhere between 5,000 – 10,000 steps.

Whatever you’re aiming for, it should be a challenge. It should be uncomfortable and push you outside of your usual comfort zone of sedentary activity.

You should be actively looking for ways to add in more movement and walking throughout your day such as going for walks at lunch, taking the stairs, parking in the back of the parking lot, walking the dog instead of watching TV, and so on.

How to track your steps:

Option 1: Pedometer or Fitness Tracking Device:

  • If you have some kind of pedometer or fitness tracker that tracks your steps, then you are in luck. This challenge will be easy for you to take part in!

Option 2: Smartphone:

  • Many newer smartphones have their own built-in pedometers. If you aren’t sure, just search on Google for your phone make + built-in pedometer. For example “iPhone 6 built-in pedometer“.

Option 3: Treadmill:

  • If you are a regular gym-goer and plan to get most of your steps in on the treadmill, then most treadmills will track your steps. This is not ideal because we would obviously like you to be out and about, getting in more movement throughout the day – but it’s better than nothing!

Option 4: Estimate:

  • The average person walking at a brisk and determined pace can expect to walk these number of steps based on distance and time walked:

How to do it?

Walking 6,000 steps is roughly an hour of walking per day.

When we first learned this ourselves, our first thought was “Where the heck do we find another hour in our day to walk?!”

Then we took off our “excuses hat” and put on our “solutions hat”…

We realised that 1 hour of walking could be:

  • 2 x 30-minute walks
  • 3 x 20-minute walks
  • 4 x 15-minute walks
  • Or even 6 x 10-minute walks.

When we broke it down like that, it became much more do-able.

We could easily afford to take 4 x 15-minute walks during the day instead of sitting around during my breaks and scrolling social media or talking to people.

Surely you can too?

PLUS, this is on top of all the other steps you would normally get in throughout the day walking from your bed to your bathroom, from your bathroom to your kitchen, from your kitchen to your car, from your car to your office, from your desk to the bathroom, and so on.

Remember to “Adjust the Dial”:

It’s good to have a goal to work towards and push yourself for, but walking more should not be an “all-or-nothing” thing.

Remember what we said about “adjusting the dial“.

Think of your health and fitness efforts as an adjustable dial that you can dial up or down depending on how life is going.

  • When life is going well and you want to put in more effort, you dial your efforts up a notch.
  • When life is getting a bit messy and you want to make sure that you can juggle everything that is going on, you dial your efforts down a notch (or even 2).

By making small adjustments as the conditions of your life changes, you’re able to keep moving forward and making progress rather than getting stuck or falling off the wagon.

The habit of walking more is all about the intention behind it.

The intention to walk more. To walk more than usual. To walk more than you might instinctively want to. To walk more so that you get all of those awesome health benefits of sitting less and walking more.

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