When it comes to getting fit, setting goals is key. It’s what creates a tangible path from point A to point B. When I start with a new client, it’s one of the first things we do. Instead of having them run themselves ragged on the treadmill, I emphasize the importance of integrating movement into their day and help them set a step goal.
Why? It’s a fun, social, and effective was to get fit. Especially when you consider that there are 168 hours in a week and many people barely make it to the gym for more than two or three. Stepping strong is a convenient form of conditioning and, in addition to boosting your fitness, it can also help improve your mood and cut your risk of stroke.
While the exact number of steps I recommend depends on a client’s goals, aiming for 10,000 a day is often a good place to start. Wondering how to hit that number? I get that question a lot. My answer almost always consists of two pieces of advice: Make fitness fun, and make your life less convenient. Here’s how to do both.
1. Make Fitness Fun
What do you like to do for fun? Do you like to dance? Play sports? Garden? Whatever the answer, add that to your fitness routine. As adults, we’re programmed to believe that fitness has to be structured. Take it from me. At one point in my life, I was a full-fledged gym rat—long hair, stringer tanks, protein shake in hand. I’d spend at least a few hours a day at the gym, so most of my physical activity came in very structured and contrived ways through the use of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes. It wasn’t until I got older that I found that channeling your inner child is key to sustainable fitness.
As I got older and became bored with these kinds of calorie-burning outlets, and I started to golf and play basketball more. That was the game changer. The social component was priceless. Being with my friends, talking, and taking part in friendly competition made fitness come naturally. In a typical round of golf I can take 14,000 steps without any pain or discomfort (aside from struggling with my terrible golf swing). Basketball’s higher intensity pushes me harder, and the lateral and vertical movements add another dimension of muscular recruitment.
2. Make Life Less Convenient
It might sound strange, but the best way to boost your steps throughout the day is to lean into inconveniences. If you drive to work, park further away from your office. Instead of driving to your morning coffee spot, walk to and from (trust me, it makes good use of that caffeine jolt). By slowly forcing yourself to walk more, you’ll rack up steps before you know it.
Through two daily coffee walks, walking meetings, treadmill TV time, and my weekly round of golf and two basketball games, I average nearly 16,000 steps a day. None of it feels like work; it’s all fun. Try to find your ideal “fun-filled” activities, and you’ll always hit your step goals—without even trying.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.