By Charlotte Giver 

If you’re into health and well-being, you’ve no doubt come across the argument for the positive benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day. With the increasing popularity of wearable fitness trackers, it’s a concept that’s as relevant as ever.

However, with many of us working in sedentary jobs, it can be a struggle to hit this goal. So, the wellbeing experts at CABA have worked with us on an article revealing how to achieve those 10,000 steps a day.

10,000 – Where does this magic number come from?

It’s believed that the notion of 10,000 steps started in Japan, in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. With the population gripped by Olympics fever, pedometers – devices that count how many steps you take – became very popular, as health-conscious Japanese people started keeping track of their activity levels.

One Japanese pedometer manufacturer came out with a device called manpo-kei – meaning 10,000 steps. The idea took off, and 10,000 steps became the standard for daily fitness, not just in Japan but around the world.

Most of us aren’t reaching anywhere near 10,000 steps a day – the equivalent of approximately five miles. According to the NHS, the average British person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day. While there’s no need to pressure yourself to achieve the full 10,000 steps, it’s a good goal to work towards. After all, studies have recognized the health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, better blood glucose levels and improved mood.

Start slowly

If you’re new to exercise, 10,000 steps may seem like an insurmountable challenge to begin with, so you may want to build up your fitness gradually. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to aim for, say, 4,000 steps a day, to begin with, then add 1,000 extra steps every few weeks until you reach the magic 10,000.

Boost step count at work

If you’re a busy professional, you may be wondering where you’re going to find the time to put in five miles of walking a day – especially with so many of us in sedentary roles. Look for opportunities to move; if you live close to your office, walk to work. Take the stairs, instead of the lift. Make an effort to walk over to speak with colleagues, rather than email. Or why not use a kitchen on another floor to make tea?

Simply setting a reminder to get up from your desk and walk around the office every hour could also boost your step count and ensure you’re not sitting at your desk for long periods of time.

Integrate exercise into work tasks. Walking meetings are a chance to step away from your desk, have a succinct conversation and rack up steps. Fresh air and a change of scenery may inspire new ideas. They’re effective for 1-on-1s, and their informal style makes them great for brainstorming and building relationships. “Sweatworking” (dialing into a call on a treadmill, for example) is challenging, helping you get to your step goal quicker. Exercise increases the heart rate, pumping more oxygen to your brain and optimizing brain function.

Overall, it’s proven that people who are more active during the working day experience a 22% increase in fitness, and a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions compared to sedentary colleagues. Take this opportunity to change your work-style and incorporate physical activity into work meetings, while encouraging your colleagues to be more productive and fun.

Activities to reach 10,000 steps

Walking is not the only way to increase your step count; even things you may not think of as exercise can help, such as gardening, housework, and shopping.

To help you work out how to achieve 10,000 steps, here’s a quick guide to activities you can easily fit into your everyday routine and the number of steps you can achieve per minute by doing them (all step counts are approximate):

Activity Average steps per minute

  • Walking (moderate pace): 100
  • Gardening: 121
  • Housework: 85
  • Food shopping: 60
  • Washing the car: 75
  • Bowling: 55
  • Golfing (walking, no cart): 100
  • Playing tennis (singles): 160
  • Playing football (casual): 207
  • Zumba: 152

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