Why having a lower daily step goal can be better for you

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We are all encouraged to try and do 10,000 steps a day to make sure move as much as we can to help improve our overall health. But why 10,000 steps? And why having a lower daily step goal can make you move move.

For me, movement is a huge part of my pain management and helps improve my overall health and wellbeing. Working towards a daily step goal is a simply way to help.

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Why 10,000 steps

According to The Walking Website, 10,000 steps is just a goal to encourage people to move more and stay motivated. For some people, this figure may sound a huge amount, and for some it may already be their daily average. It all depends on what you do now and what you are aiming to do.

The benefits of walking

There are so many opinions on the internet as to what exercise is good for you and how much we should be doing. Obviously everyone is different in terms of their ability and what goals people have – get fit, lose weight, recovery from an injury etc.

Walking has so many health benefits:

  • It burns calories and helps us lose weight
  • It is good for our mental health and wellbeing
  • It is a simple stress relief
  • It can improve your mood
  • It can improve our overall health

Is 10,000 steps achievable?

Yes, it can be. But in reality it can be hard to hit this goal regularly. Unless of course, you already hit a high number of steps each day, then aiming to hit 10,000 steps can seem quite unrealistic and unachievable.

People with chronic pain are less likely to hit such a high amount of steps due to the sheer fact that they have chronic pain, and some days are harder and more painful than others.

You need to pick a daily steps goal that is both achievable and challenging for you. If it’s not achievable, you are very unlikely to do it; and if it’s not challenging, you won’t feel like you are pushing yourself.

Why I set myself a lower steps goal target

I did have a goal of hitting 10,000 steps a day, and some days I would achieve it. But on other days I would only get to say around 7,000 and I knew there was no chance of me doing another 3,000 to reach my goal. So for the rest of the day I didn’t bother even trying, and I hardly moved at all.

Instead, I decided to set my daily steps goal at 8,000. This way, if I was at 7,000 steps, I knew I only had another 1,000 to go and this made me move more because this extra 1,000 seemed more realistic and achievable.

Track your steps

Using a pedometer or fitness tracker is a simple way of monitoring your steps and keeping motivated to achieve your personal goals. It can also be a lot of fun if you link up with friends or set some challenges to achieve together.

There are loads of different products available. Some you can wear on your wrist, and some you can clip on to your trousers or simply pop in a pocket or bag.

I currently use a Fitbit Versa. I love my gadgets and I wanted something that did more than track my steps. You can get devices which simply track your steps only and are a lot cheaper.

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How I manage tiredness on top of my chronic pain

7 ways to look after your mental health when you’re in pain

How to increase your steps

No matter what you daily steps goal is, there are some very simple ways to make sure you do more and move more.

In general:

  • Walk instead of driving or getting the bus.
  • Get up half an hour early and go for a walk before work (this can have a real positive effect on your mindset for the rest of the day).
  • Walk down every aisle in the supermarket.
  • Walk the long way round.
  • Walk the dog an extra 5 minutes (doing this every day means an extra 35 minute of walking each week).
  • Go for a walk with some music, a podcast, or an audio book.

At home:

  • Walk around the house or up and down the stairs during TV adverts.
  • Do steps on the spot when watching TV.
  • Use a stepper – different types are available.
  • Walk around when on the phone.
  • Walk around when brushing your teeth (it’s surprising how many steps you can do in two minutes, twice a day).
  • Simply walk on the spot – swinging your arms keeps your momentum going and burns more calories too.

At work:

  • Go for a walk on your lunch break.
  • Walk to the furthest toilet or printer in your office.
  • Go and speak to someone instead of picking up the phone or sending an email.
  • Walk around when on the phone or a teleconference.
  • Park your car further away from the office door.

What not to do

Try not to leave your daily steps until the end of the day; spread them out throughout the day as best you can. Maybe aim to do so many in an hour or so many by lunchtime.

Instead of a daily step goal you could set yourself a weekly step goal. This way it takes the pressure off if you’re having a bad pain day, or you generally know you won’t hit your step goal every day.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit your steps every day. We all have good and bad days. If you aim to hit your goal 80-90% of the time, and you push yourself to move more in general, then this is good enough,

Your thoughts

Do you have a daily steps goal?

What is it and why?

What tips can you share to inspire others to move more?

Thank you for reading
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2 thoughts on “Why having a lower daily step goal can be better for you

  1. Petra / Be Healthy Now says:

    These are some great tips! You are right, 10,000 steps may seem like a lot for some people so lowering your target is certainly better. I don’t have a daily goal to be honest but I always try to go for a walk as often as I can. Normally I go for an hour walk, sometimes more.

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