Two No-Fail Ways To Hit Your Daily Step Goal

Learn how Fitbit ambassador Harley Pasternak gets more than 10,000 steps a day without even trying.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 ratlong 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.

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    • Lottie , you can do it ! Little and often ! Do things you enjoy ! Tips .. take stairs not lift , walk / run /gym at lunch break. Leave car at home short journeys! Believe in you & Enjoy moving your body ‍♀️X

  • Golf is great
    I’m 70 and have chronic Achilles tendinitis so I can’t do gym workouts and all the other things I used to do a lot of
    But I have been playing since I was 60 and love golf
    No problem achieving 10K steps on golf days so I play as much as I can

    • Hi,
      I am 71, and trying to get to 10,000 step a day just with walking my dog for an hour a day , but am only up to 5,000 steps. It’s frustrating. Jackie from Toronto

      • Hi, I started taking my dog for 15-20 minute walks for his bathroom breaks. And usually one nice long walk together. I was surprised how many people in my neighbourhood I’ve gotten to know and some that have become walking buddies for me and my dog. This plus my other normal daily activities make it easy for me to reach my daily average of 16000.
        I live in Alberta so I have to bundle up in winter ❄️

    • I have an anaesthetic cream , compounded by a pharmacist that helps with my shoulder pain, that might help. It’s a prescription.

    • I Don’t have the commercial name of the cream because it’s a prescription made up from a special compounding pharmacy

  • These are all great ideas. Since my favorite thing to do is sewing and longarm quilting, neither of which involve many steps except to the ironing board across the room and the 10 feet of my longarm space, I need to find another activity besides walking to increase my steps.
    It’s hard for me to get to 7,000 steps a day on a regular basis. I workout at Curves 5x a week but that doesn’t add much, if anything, to my FitBit calculations.

    • Agree, I am also a textile sewist so if it wasn’t for my twice daily dog walks (which are now much longer) there is no way I could do the number of steps needed.
      Keep sewing/stepping!

      • I totally understand . I’m in the same position. I’m trying to move more all day. Treadmill in my basement was so boring! …

    • I always park further away in parking lots. When standing, either ironing or at the copy machine at work. I step in place. It all adds up quick.

    • Hi ,
      Just left a comment above. I am trying to get above 4,000 steps a day walking my dog for an hour, but still want to get up to 10,000. A friend of mine walks back and forth in her basement for 45 minutes a day!

    • Take one hour for yourself and go for good walk or break it down to two half hours you will get your steps in that way also while cooking keep marching works

  • Walking outside in the summer is not possible in AZ. Lowest temps are around 90! I have several relatives who live in other states. When we talk on the phone, I walk briskly inside my home. I can get 4-7000 steps just doing this. Makes it easy as I hardly notice I’m walking until get off the phone.

  • I had a ruptured brain aneurysm with a subsequent stroke afterwards. Unbeknownst to me, I had four aneurysms since birth and one burst 17 years ago. Since I can barely feel one side of my body, my max daily steps are usually about 5000 with about 30 mins. cardio, stretching, and yoga. Recently, a PT told me that I’m doing very good to have the medical history I have. What can you recommend for more exercise? I’m retired and barely go anywhere. However, yesterday I got almost three miles but that’s rare.

    • I think you are doing awesome! Keep it up! One thing you can do is walk in place for about 50 steps. Not that time consuming and they add up. Sometimes I’ll do the 250!
      Another thing I do is just walk around the yard looking at what’s going on out there!

  • Great article. You can also lay in bed and shake your wrist up and down too. This provides the maximum step count with the minimum amount of exerted effort.

  • I also find that by studying a language through downloads to my phone I get so involved with that, I don’t think about how far I’m walking and average 15,000 steps a day at 74 years old.

  • I play pickleball. I am 75 years old and recently discovered I have AFib. I can’t play as long or as hard as I’d like, but try to play a couple of hours a week. Summer is hard because a lot of pickleball players also play golf so it’s hard to get enough players for a game. Winter everyone comes back to pickleball.

  • I find it pretty easy to hit 5 miles a day, my goal. For me this means about 12k steps.
    At home or on the road, I like to break my steps into two walking sessions, morning (when I aim for 7000 steps and event go for the rest. Just easier to do. Sometimes I’ll go more or less in AM.. but given a choice I’d prefer more than half early..

  • This article parallels with what I have been doing. Monday’s through Friday’s, I go to work 40-60 minutes before work start time and walk or jog (walking is encouraged at my workplace, which helps). I will walk most lunch breaks as well. On Saturdays, my teen son works, so I drop him off, drive to a park, and walk up to 10 miles around the perimeter of the park. Sundays (very early in the morning) and any holidays, I walk from my home to a local town, and back, which ends up being 12-15 miles. I will walk to Starbucks, if I have a craving for one of their tea drinks. I make walking fun by playing games (such as Pokemon Go (thanks to my teen son who started me playing with him), listening to music ( only done if I am on a track, which makes listening to music safer), or challenging my own record time at the distance I am walking that day. Finally, I cut my own lawn, which takes me a few hours to do on most weekends. So, for me, it is common for me to achieve the minimum of 10,000 steps a day. I have had days where I have hit 24,000 steps by noon on any given weekend. I hope these tips helps and I am looking forward to being ‘schooled’ by learning new ways to walk more.

    • I was taking my dog for a 2 block walk daily (on top of backyard and indoor play where he does most of the walking!). One day this week I walked him early then our friend invited us to the park to walk with her dog and we walked twice around this 1-block park. I got over 10,000 steps for the first time without trying! Part of the reason I got this dog is to make myself get out and walk. When my knee hurts it’s too easy to just forget it – but since I owe it to the dog, I force myself even if I have to take my cane.

  • I actually bought my fitbit after listening to Harley Pasternak speak at a book launch. I always thought I walked a fair bit but after a few days I sadly realized that my step count wasn’t as high as I thought it was. I’ve made it a goal to reach 10,000 a day and have worked at changing my mindset to ‘make my life less convenient’ as Harley says above. So, in short – thanks Harley – I was seeking some inspiration at your book signing and got it!

  • I walk everywhere. Started with baby steps in neighborhood to market and pharmacy. Joined a walking club 2-3X’s a week I get minimum 3 miles an hour. Took on a weight loss challenge that increased my already loss of pounds and inches! Key is liking the activity and a support system. Loved the Fitbit tracking, seeing results helps keep me motivated. Lifestyle changes to maintain in a nutshell.

  • I’m all about the walking to do errands, rather than driving, if possible. My motto: Burn calories, not gas! And my dog keeps me walking as well!

  • I’m fighting dementia through exercise doing 10000 to 20000 steps per day it’s my challenge lets see if it keeps me on track to less confusion and more concentration lol

  • Good article Harley. I’m getting cheesed off with the gym, and have been looking for a different outlet. And you mentioned the one word. “Fun”. So you must excuse me, as I’m off to discover some fun …

  • Hi there I’m trying to get fit but I have had a few heart attacks quad bypass and a pacemaker fitted. Most gym regime are aimed at abled fit people with very few if any medical conditions, help I have heart failure, hypotropic cardiomyopathy, among just a few. Is there any help out there.

  • I am in the process of retiring and started working for an animal rescue facility to help make the transition. Three days a week I walk dogs for about two hours. Little did I know that on the days that I walk dogs I would average between 12,000 and 16,000 steps! Going to the gym two or three days a week rounds out my step requirements.

  • I’m a avid reader and instead of sitting on the couch my kindle and I have started walking around my house inside, once this AZ heat passes I can take it outside. I went from 3k steps a day to 15k.

  • It seems like when I am on a treadmill, the full amount of steps aren’t always recorded. Anyone else have this experience?

  • Being a fitness expert and nutritionist, what would you recommend for a 64 year old lady trying to get rid of belly fat. Thanks

  • Hi, I had gastric bypass 14 years ago. I excercise regularly and try to eat healthy. I have this pouch on my inner thighs that I can’t seem to get rid of. Are there excerises that I can do to tighten up my skin and firm up? Thank you for a response.

  • Can you please explain how my Fitbit recorded that I had climbed 43 flights of stairs – when I was in fact in an operating theatre for 5 hours – and my Fitbit was in the draw of my bedside locker???

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