A simple, regular walking routine can be one of the best ways to improve your health. Fitness and health experts typically recommend getting at least 10,000 steps every day to experience real benefits. And with the increasing popularity of fitness trackers, many of us are mindful of how many steps we’re getting every day and challenging ourselves to hit our goals.
If you find getting 10,000 steps to be a challenge, look at ways you can add more activity into your day. Walk around your house while you’re on the phone, or log some time on the treadmill while you watch your favorite TV shows. Park further away from your destination and take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of those steps add up!
If, on the other hand, you’re a pro at getting your 10,000 steps, don’t stop there! Health experts report that adding another 1,000 steps to your day can lead to big benefits. An additional 1,000 steps is about half a mile, which adds up to nearly 180 miles of additional activity each year. All of that extra activity can have a big impact on your physical and emotional health. Check out some of these perks of increasing your step count:
1. It’s good for your heart
Any kind of movement is extremely beneficial for your heart. Exercise decreases your risk of heart disease and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. As a result, more blood is delivered to your muscles, and blood oxygen levels increase.
2. It lowers your risk of stroke
Even just an extra 1,000 steps each day directly lowers your risk of experiencing a stroke. Additional activity also helps lower your blood pressure, which further reduces your risk of stroke.
3. It helps control your cholesterol
An extra 1,000 steps a day may be the difference between high LDL levels and normal levels. When you get more activity, you burn up more cholesterol, which keeps it from causing damage to your blood vessels.
4. Walking reduces stress
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, but you don’t have to log a long gym workout to experience the benefits. Even just a short walk can significantly improve your mood and lower stress. Walking can help clear your head and promote feelings of peace. When you exercise, your body creates endorphins, which are chemicals that boost your mood and temperament. Movement also cuts levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can make you feel anxious and increases your chances of experiencing mental and physical health problems. Taking an extra 1,000 steps a day can go a long way towards improving your mood and lowering stress levels.
5. It strengthens your bones
Adding 1,000 extra steps to your day also strengthens your bones. Any weight or pressure that you put on your bones, as long as it is not too intense, will help strengthen them by making them more resilient. That extra pressure stimulates cells called osteoblasts, which can turn into new bone cells.
6. You may lose weight
Although walking isn’t as intense as many other workout routines, an extra 1,000 steps a day may help you lose weight over time. Adding 1,000 steps a day will help you burn about 50 extra calories, or 350 calories over the course of a week. If you’re stuck at a weight-loss plateau, a little extra activity may give you the boost you need to get past it!
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on May 4, 2018