In recent years, lots of people have bought pedometers or downloaded mobile apps on their phones to measure how many steps they take during the day. The magic number that is on most people’s lips is that you should at least walk 10,000 steps each day if you want to stay trim and healthy.

Depending on your overall health and eating habits, 10,000 steps a day might not be enough to help you lose weight, but it is a good goal to shoot for if you worry about being too sedentary. Sometimes even taking that many steps in can be difficult, depending on your routine and the weather.

When it’s too hot outside

You might have several places in your community where you can walk to avoid the summer heat. You might need to be inventive if you don’t have a gym membership. Most people know a shopping mall is a great place to talk. They are air-conditioned and offer bathrooms and places where you can get water.

School gyms and public auditoriums also offer flat places to walk that are often air conditioned, and again there is usually water nearby. One very important piece of advice: get some comfortable, well-cushioned shoes. They can make your feet, hips and back feel better.

Getting your steps in

Someone fairly inactive takes fewer than 3000 steps each day as they walk around their home or at work, so you have to be pretty intentional to boost that up to 10,000. If you are puttering around the house or walking down the hall to talk to a work partner, it is doubtful you are going to reach 10,000 steps without being very intentional.

It is estimated that 30 to 60 minutes of walking a day is the minimum recommended to reduce health risks.

Why walking

While walking might not give you the same calorie burn you could receive from other more intense exercises, it offers its own set of health benefits. And many people can enjoy walking through all stages of life.

♦ Improves circulation, which can help reduce the chance of stroke

♦ Can help prevent the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis

♦ Helps you burn calories and lose weight

♦ Improves your mood, especially if you can find a friend to walk with

♦ Can lower your blood sugar levels

♦ Strengthens your leg and abdominal muscles

♦ Allows you to stay active longer

You might like walking in the neighborhood where you live. Depending on where you work, walking during your lunch break is also an option. And another good thing about walking, is you can talk while you do it. Finding a walking buddy can make the experience even more enjoyable.

Being active is one of the essentials of staying healthy. It can help lower our blood sugar, blood pressure and overall weight. Those who find themselves sitting at a desk during the day are even more likely to be plagued by extra pounds.

Seize the day

Opportunities to walk are all around you if you look hard enough, but not everyone can enjoy a frequent walk in the woods or in the neighborhood. Be creative and look for ways you can increase your activity:

♦ Park further away from where you are headed to make yourself walk further.

♦ Have a walking meeting with your co-workers rather than sitting around a table.

♦ Avoid the elevator and take the stairs.

♦ Set an alarm to remind yourself to move around every hour.

♦ Walk over to a co-worker’s desk rather than sending an email.

Tifani Kinard is Vice President of Rural Health for Atrium Health Floyd.

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