Okay, we have all heard the iconic (yet perpetually corny) phrase stating that the best way to get started on anything or any goal in life is to simply “put one foot in front of the other”
Well, I am here to say that while yes, this phrase is corny it’s also very true. The more that I have studied and researched anatomy and exercise physiology as a professional fitness trainer, I have learned to appreciate the sheer act of walking and the great health benefits it offers. Is walking the only step you need to take to achieve your dream physique? Most likely not, but it is necessary. Throughout my own research as well as the personal anecdotes i have from personally training other people for five years, the key to the tight and toned physique of your dreams is a result of both resistance training (which comes in many forms including weight training), as well as cardiovascular activity including non activity exercise thermogenesis (daily activities like walking).
As a professional fitness trainer, I always highly suggest walking (and aiming for ten thousand steps a day) as one’s preferred method of cardio to pair with a consistent strength training program, as other cardio exercises like running can interfere with the effects of strength training. In my own experience, I have experimented with eliminating cardio from my exercise routine to see what that did, and my results shocked me in a quite negative way. By limiting my fitness and workout routine to only lifting weights and essentially neglecting my daily step count (accompanied by not tracking my caloric intake) I gained weight up to my highest of two hundred and seventy pounds (Looking like Frosty the Snowman), when I quickly reverted to tracking my food and increasing my step count to around ten thousand steps a day, but that’s a story for a different time.
Besides a sexy dream physique, walking has numerous health benefits that as I briefly mentioned before. Some of these include: increased mental clarity, more oxygen to the brain, more efficient metabolism, and general heart health (which was much needed after getting asked all about your dating life by relatives at this past Christmas dinner) As simple of a task as it is, taking daily walks as short as ten minutes at a time can greatly benefit your health both physically and mentally, getting you full into that holiday spirit! Now let’s talk about the daily habits & behaviors around aiming to achieve the allusive ten thousand steps a day. Let’s be honest, walking ten thousand steps every day seems to be unattainable. As it is challenging, it is very doable and I’m going to give you a few tips you can use to help you achieve a higher step count throughout your daily life.
For most of America, our jobs do not consist of being constantly on our feet accumulating thousands of steps at a time, so we need to take advantage of the time we are able to take them. So here are some simple, yet effective behavioral patterns to increase daily step count to incorporate into your daily life. Wake up a little earlier!! For example, if you normally wake up at 8 am for work, wake up at 7:30 and go for a walk as soon as you wake up for thirty minutes. Not only does this help increase total step count throughout for the day, but also helps in getting your day started with a boost in your metabolism, and blood flow to the brain increasing your focus and mood overall going into your workday.
Another way to take get more steps in is to take advantage of your breaks throughout the day, even at work! Personally, on a workday things can go one way or another for my step count as some days I am stuck in one gym working or are walking around a lot training at different gyms and training boxing sessions. On the days when I won’t achieve my desired step count from just working, this is how I get to ten thousand steps. When I have the option to, I choose to take stairs instead of the elevator. Sometimes, this even gets you to your destination quicker. Also, when I have breaks between work tasks in a day, I will choose to go for a short walk instead of sitting down. This same concept can be applied to a fifty to sixty minute lunch break while working a conventional nine to five corporate job. It does take a degree of creativity but even adding an extra thirty to forty minutes of total step count during a workday can make getting ten thousand steps that much more doable during the day. Other smaller tasks that can be done while going for a brisk walk include: taking calls/ zoom meetings, sending emails, and other work texts if you have the option to. Post workday, a simple tip to getting more steps and feeling better at the end of the day is going for a ten to twenty minute walk after eating our final meal of the day, to aid in digestion and serotonin levels instead of feeling too full or lethargic after our last meal of the day. (Like myself when I looked like Frosty the Snowman at 270 lbs).
In short, doing a little goes a long way when it comes to mid to long term health goals since our goal is to live the happiest and healthiest lives that we can. As small of an action that walking may seem to be, it can have a significant impact on our health, physique, and mental space in the long term. Just as Rome was not built in one day, neither was one great body and mind. So there it is, let’s put one foot in front of the other and step into the New Year boldly.