Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness. We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities, so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life. Check out our latest Health Hint on the benefits of drinking tea. We hope you find it helpful. If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario, please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities.
How many steps do you need?
Rather than focusing on a specific number as your goal, instead just focus on increasing your daily steps. If you currently get in about 2-3000 steps per day, aim for 5000. Consistently increasing your movement, even just by a little bit, has been shown to have significant health benefits. Once 5000 steps feel normal to you, try increasing it to 7000 steps and so on. The goal is to increase overall movement every day.
Should I do all my steps at once or spread them out over the day?
Getting in daily movement, whatever way you can, is the ultimate goal. If the only way you can do that is to go for a long walk in the morning and get all your steps in, then go for it. Ideally though, you can spread that movement throughout the day. This is because there is plenty of research available now that shows the harms from prolonged sitting or inactivity. These include obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, etc. So, if you do a bunch of exercise in the morning but then sit for the next 8-10 hours of the day, you will still be at risk for some of these impacts. Incorporating movement throughout your day allows you to get your steps in and minimizes the length of time you are inactive for. It’s win-win!
How to fit movement in to your day
If you get creative and are willing to change up your daily habits, there are plenty of ways to incorporate movement into your schedule.
Here are some tips:
Park at the back of the parking lot so you have farther to walk into the store
Go for a walk while taking a phone meeting
Take the stairs rather than the elevator
Walk to grab your morning coffee, rather than drive
Take a 15-minute work break and walk around your block
Set an alarm for every hour to remind you to get up and walk around your house/office
Walk with your colleagues rather than meeting in an office
Get a standing desk, if possible
Benefits of regular daily movement
There is plenty of research available that all agrees that there are ample health benefits to increasing your daily steps and movement. One study found that “for every 2,000 steps taken, a person lowers their risk of all-causes of death by 8-11%.” (Science Daily). On top of that, increasing your daily movement has been associated with having a sharper and clearer mind, improved sleep, reducing the risk of heart attack, improved blood pressure and blood sugar control, weight management, decreased depression and anxiety, and more.
There are plenty of options for tracking your daily steps, such as activity watches or phone apps, or if tracking isn’t for you than focusing on adding in extra movement each day will get you one step closer to your goal!
We hope you enjoyed our latest Health Hint!