Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — Do It

We know walking is good for the environment and good for us. Previous posts discussed benefits and getting started. Now it’s time to actually do it.

Many health experts recommend walking 10,000 steps a day as part of a healthy lifestyle. How far are 10,000 steps? People vary widely so 10,000 steps are somewhere between 3.5 to 5.5 miles. A person walking can burn plus or minus 100 calories per mile so 10,000 steps burn about 350 to 550 calories per day. Less if you go slow and more if you are walking up stairs or a hill.

10 Easy Ways to Rack Up Walking Steps

Below are 10 easy ways to rack up walking steps at home and around the neighborhood. Extra credit for stairs or walking uphill.

  1. Do Laundry
  2. Tidy Up
  3. Take Out the Trash
  4. Read
  5. Talk on the Phone
  6. Watch TV / Play Computer Games
  7. At School
  8. In the Neighborhood
  9. Run Errands
  10. At Work

Do Laundry

Pile of LaundryLaundry is one of those tasks that must be done. You’d be amazed how many steps you can accumulate doing the laundry going back and forth collecting clothes, checking the washer and dryer, and then multiple trips to put laundry away. Extra credit if you have stairs or you walk to a shared laundry facility. So volunteer to do the laundry.

Tidy Up

Yep, that’s right, put stuff away. Walking around the house putting stuff away has a double benefit of getting more steps in and tidying up the house. If you have small children, a 10-minute daily toy pick up is good for everyone.

Take Out the Trash

How about taking out the trash? Trips out to the garbage cans add up. Taking the trash, recycle, and green waste cans out to the street weekly for pick up can add up to a lot of steps. At our house, we share a long, steep driveway with our neighbors. Weekly trash duty is worth 900 steps (that’s almost 10% of a 10,000 step daily goal). So volunteer to take out the trash.

Read

Kindle E-ReaderYes, you read that right. Read while walking around the house. Read the paper, a book on an e-reader, e-mail on your smartphone, or anything you can carry and read while walking. It just takes a clear path and a little practice. I got an e-reader as a gift so I walk and read the news on it for about 20 minutes a day (2,000 steps).

Talk on the Phone

Get a wireless headset or ear bud and walk around the house or yard while talking on the phone. Extra credit for stairs or hills. The more you talk the more you walk.

Watch TV or Play Computer Games

I admit I like watching TV. While trying to increase my daily steps, I realized I could score 200-400 steps by walking away from the TV during commercials and walking around the house. Let’s say an hour-long show has 5 commercial breaks. Do the math. Getting up and walking around at every commercial break could result in an accumulation of 1,000-2000 steps while watching TV. This also works for taking a break from computer games, streaming movies, and surfing the web. Use your favorite technology to set a reminder to get up and walk.

At School

Walking to school is good for kids and parents. Our youngest son was one of few kids who walked to high school in the small town we moved to when he was a freshman (about 2 miles each way). He wears a top hat everywhere, so he was well known around town.

Person Walking in the SnowOur oldest son is in graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin and lives off campus. He walks everywhere. Have you ever heard the stories about back in the day when your dad or mom walked to school in the snow? Well, our son actually does.

In the Neighborhood

Walk to the neighbors, a play date, the park, library, store around the corner, you name it. Think twice before getting in the car. Don’t want your kids walking by themselves, then walk with them.

Run Errands

Walk to do errands. We are fortunate to live within walking distance (a mile or less) of a grocery market, pharmacy, hardware store, gift shops, restaurants, etc. Those that live in urban areas may have more walking destination choices than those in the suburbs. If you don’t live within walking distance of anything, then plan several errands in the same general area, park your car in a central location, and walk to the stores. Think of extra trips back to the car to drop off packages as an extra benefit, not a hassle.

At Work

There are many ways to walk more at work, but that is for another post…

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

2 thoughts on “Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — Do It”

  1. I have always heard that gardening is a good exercise. Is there any way the ups and downs, reaching, digging, bending, weeding can be converted into steps? Are any calories burned?

    1. You’re right gardening is good exercise! Depending on the person (height, weight) and activity (planting, digging, weeding), one can burn somewhere around 300 – 400 calories per hour doing general gardening. A person walking can burn plus or minus 100 calories per mile and walk 3 or 4 miles in an hour, so gardening for an hour is like walking for a few miles.

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