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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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Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — Getting Started

Walking is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health. Want to build more walking into your day? Forming a new habit takes 3-4 weeks so let’s get started.

  1. Set a starting goal
  2. Determine a way to measure progress and hold yourself accountable
  3. Prepare
  4. Do it
  5. Celebrate your accomplishment
  6. Repeat

In this post, we’ll deal with the first 3 items: set a goal, determine a method to measure progress and preparation.

Set a Starting Goal

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

  • Footsteps to GoalSet a starting goal that is a stretch for you but achievable and that you can commit to doing on a regular basis.
  • The point is to do something more than you are doing now, not go from a couch potato to a marathon runner in one step.
  • A goal might be to walk outside 3 times a week for 30 minutes or walk a minimum of 3000 steps a day.

Determine a Method to Measure Progress and Hold Yourself Accountable

There is a saying in business, “what gets measured gets done.” It works in life too.

  • Tell a family member or friend what you are going to do and ask for their support. Later, do it and then tell them you did it.
  • Find a walking partner(s) or group. It’s fun to walk and talk about current events, a mutual hobby, upcoming trip, you name it. A partner helps you stay accountable. Dogs make good walking partners (I’ve yet to see a cat or parakeet). If you enjoy solitary walking, to think, listen to music, or just enjoy your own company, that’s okay too.
  • Start a walking journal. A photo journal would be a fun alternative to writing.
  • Omron Pocket PedometerBuy a pedometer which is a simple device you wear or carry that counts your steps. They come in a variety of price ranges and models. I like my Omron Pedometer because it is small and can be worn on a belt, put in a pocket or even in a purse. The pedometer stores 7 days of data so you can compare your walking for the week.
  • Download an app for your smartphone (many are free). Some apps turn your smartphone into a pedometer (remember to carry your phone with you at all times if you want to count all steps).

Prepare

If you are sedentary, check with your doctor before starting a walking program. Already in good shape, then review the list below and go for it.

  • My kids walk around barefoot all the time but some people (like me) prefer shoes. Your feet are important to your mobility so if you are going to buy shoes make sure they fit well, are comfortable, durable and well made. Don’t skimp on your feet.
  • Walking poles are becoming more and more popular with walkers and hikers and are useful for people with balance challenges or that need assistance for walking.
  • Staying hydrated while walking is important especially for people with low blood pressure. Make sure you have a reusable water bottle.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen.
  • Setting a schedule helps you stay accountable.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable way to carry water, removed outerwear, lunch, purchases, things you find along the way or whatever.
  • Scenic Walking PathDetermine places to walk. Around an indoor or outdoor track. On the sidewalk around town (watch out for uneven payment and driveway cutouts). Walk along a scenic trail, in a park, or around a botanical garden. Mix it up and walk at different locations.
  • In hot climates, a hat is a good idea. I almost always wear a hat outside (when it’s hot out it makes me feel cooler). In cold climates, removable layers work well. When you start out a scarf feels good, and once you warm up you can take it off.

Ready to start walking more? Told a friend, bought a pedometer, scored a great pair of walking shoes on sale? Then get going and enjoy.

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