In 2015, the BBC published an article in which it stated that the average Briton walks between 3 and 4 thousand steps a day. The Telegraph stated, in 2016, a figure of only half a mile per day – which for me would be walking about 1,000 steps. In 2017, Public Health England told us that 4 out of 10 adults between the ages of 40 and 60 don’t even get one 10-minute brisk walk in a month. The figures vary depending on who you listen to but the message is clear; the average person does not do anywhere near the recommended amount of daily activity. This lack of exercise contributes to 1 in 6 deaths according to the NHS and comes with a cost of around £0.9 billion per year.
Why I walk.
Walking is the form of cardio that I do by far the most and I make a conscious effort to add steps to my step counter every single day. I’d never really experienced the benefits of increasing my daily activity until I went travelling. Previously, I had concentrated solely on my weight training. After a few months abroad, I noticed that walking all the time had taken a couple of inches off my middle. A couple of inches that I genuinely believed were part of my genetics and going nowhere. Since being back I have decided that I am going to do all I can to keep my 32-inch waist. I now take time out and go for walks whenever the weather is nice, I have bought a treadmill and I add steps into my life whenever there’s an opportunity.
Why walking is so good:
It’s versatile – You can fit it into your day whenever you like. Walk up a couple extra aisles at the supermarket. Walk down to the local shop. Go for a walk on your lunch break. You don’t have to take a large chunk of time out of your day to complete your steps. You can easily reach your target in 10-minute intervals throughout the day.
It’s sustainable – Most healthy humans beings can walk for hours. It’s nowhere near as tiring as an hour bike ride or a run. So it is a much easier target to complete. You’re also less likely to wake up the next day and feel too tired from it or put off walking again.
No planning – You can walk in whatever clothes you have on at the time. You’re unlikely to get too hot and sweaty. You do not need any equipment to take part. So therefore you can literally go for a walk anywhere anytime.
So what should we be doing?
The NHS has given guidelines that adults in good health should be completing a minimum of either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of the two per week. They also advise 2 resistance training sessions but we’ll save that for a separate article. Brisk walking at a speed of 3 mph counts as moderate aerobic activity. Another guideline given is that whilst walking you should still be able to talk but not sing. Personally, I can’t sing whilst stood still either but that has more to do with my lack of musical talent.
Check out the NHS pages on guidelines and the benefits of exercise here.
I would suggest that the above is too low if you’re looking to get active and especially if you’re looking to lose weight. I advocate the other widely promoted target of 10K steps per day. This is because you will burn on average 500 calories completing 10k steps. If you do that every day, that’s 3,500 calories a week, which is the equivalent to 1 pound of fat. If you are currently way below this figure, then make sure you build it up slowly and get health advice from your doctor if you have any medical conditions or concerns.
Increase your likelihood of success.
Stanford University investigated the impact pedometers* had on people’s daily activity. They found that when using a pedometer*, a person’s step count increased by an average of 2,183 compared to what it had been previously. So make sure your new goal is measurable and keep track of your steps. If you don’t want to wear a pedometer*, many mobile phones have a built in step counter or just track the amount of time you spend walking. I tend to do about 1,000 steps in 10 minutes. Just keeping a track on its own is likely to give you a boost in activity and a step towards reaching your new active goals.