There’s no denying the incredible health benefits associated with moving your body on a daily basis. Whether it’s through strength training, cardio, or a combo of the two, making an effort to be active every day can reduce your risk of chronic disease, prevent weight gain and obesity, and improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Another fine way to squeeze some movement into your day is via your daily step count. When it comes to walking your way to better health, 10,000 steps are considered the magic number. So, let’s find out the health benefits of walking and why 10,000 steps per day is considered the ideal number of steps to stride for.
What are the health benefits of walking?
The health benefits of walking are enormous. Hitting the pavement for a solid 10,000 steps per day may:
- Reduce the risk of or help manage type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Prevent obesity and abdominal weight gain
- Maintain or improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels
- Reduce the risk of some cancers
- Improve symptoms of depression
- Improve muscle strength
- Improve your mood, especially when combined with a short meditation
- Boost your brain power
- Improve sleep quality
- Create opportunities for socialising
Why are 10,000 steps per day the magic number?
If you’re the type of person who’s regularly flipping out your smartphone or smartwatch for a daily step count update, you’ll be familiar with the 10,000 daily step target. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Heart Foundation of Australia, 10,000 steps or eight kilometres per day translates to improved general health and reduced risk of chronic disease. This Australian study from 2015 went further to demonstrate that people who take 10,000 or more steps per day are likely to lower their risk of early death by up to 46%.
Ways to get more steps in each day
Australian adults take an average of 7,400 steps per day. Now that you’re aware of the benefits of walking 10,000 steps for overall health, try amping up your step count by:
- Taking your dog for a walk
- Listening to a podcast or music when out for a walk – the distraction may encourage you to walk farther
- Making your daily walk a social event by inviting friends or family
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
- Parking your car farther away from your destination
- Jumping off public transport a stop early and walking the extra distance
- Scheduling walks throughout your workday
- Walking to the corner store or local café instead of driving
- Walking to collect take-away meals instead of ordering via a meal delivery service