The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days a week, or 10,000 steps daily, measured by a pedometer. WalkingWorks® is designed for everyone. So if you have a chronic health condition or are overweight, or even if you are already in great shape, you will learn how to set a goal that makes sense for you.
While 10,000 steps may seem like a lot, you're probably walking more than you think. And by making simple choices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store instead of driving, parking at the back of the parking lot instead of the front -- you'll be surprised at how quickly the steps add up. All you really need is a good pair of shoes.
To avoid injury, consider starting out slowly. Unless you are already walking a lot, it may take a while before you reach the 10,000 steps goal. Follow these steps to establish your individual goal and shape your program:
- Establish a baseline by tracking your current activity in time or steps for seven days. Include all of your normal walking activities. At the end of each day, tally your minutes or total steps.
- Your benchmark is the highest number of steps or minutes you walked on any given day while establishing your baseline the first week. Use that number as your daily goal for the second and third weeks. Log your daily walks, and at the end of the third week, review your progress. If you averaged your goal, add another 500 steps or several more minutes to your daily goal for the fourth and fifth weeks.
- At the end of each two-week period, try to add 500 steps or several more minutes to your walking goal. If you had difficulty reaching your goal, walk at the same level until you build enough endurance to increase your target. Continue to track your activity to prevent regressing. If you find yourself falling behind your average daily goal, try not to become discouraged. To maintain your motivation, keep logging your progress and stay with the same number of steps or minutes instead of increasing your target.
Is 10,000 Steps Too Much or Too Few for You?
Keep in mind that 10,000 steps may not be a realistic goal for everyone. If you are very overweight or have other chronic health problems, talk with your doctor to determine a goal that may be more appropriate.
For some people, 10,000 steps are too few to meet ultimate health or weight loss goals. For example, individuals who are already walking 7,000 or 8,000 steps per day may not get enough benefit from increasing to just 10,000. If this applies to you, ultimately aim to add a total of 7,600 steps to your current daily total, adding 500 steps every two weeks as indicated in the plan. You can also add hills, stairs or arm weights to your routine to make your walks more challenging.