16 tips for taking 10,000 steps a day

People walking along the Yarra River with three dogs

Nina Hendy

Posted November 18, 2021


With health experts recommending we take 10,000 steps a day, it may sound like a mammoth task. Here’s how to hit your goal without breaking a sweat.

Studies have shown that a 10,000 daily step target improves heart health, mental health and lowers the risk of various diseases including diabetes. 

Physical activity doesn’t have to be vigorous or done for hours on end to improve your health. One study of inactive women found that even a low level of exercise – around 75 minutes a week – improved fitness levels significantly, compared to inactive women.

While formal exercise, like going to the gym, will help you to build toward 10,000 steps, with a bit of planning, you won’t need to set aside time for the gym or long walks to hit 10,000 steps. The key is to look for ways to accumulate incidental steps so that it doesn’t feel like hard work.

Victoria Walks are conducting a survey to better understand the community support and why the public use, or don’t use, walking paths and trails. If you would like to participate in their survey, it will be open to responses from to 17 November to 15 December 2021.


How to walk the walk

1. Use a step tracker 

While many modern smartphones have a built-in step tracker, having a dedicated pedometer can not only be more accurate, but keep you accountable throughout your day. Many new smartwatches also have this function, which can serve as a great little reminder. 

Once you get into the habit of checking your tracker, it will quickly become second-nature to see how you’re progressing through the day. 

2. Park further away 

It might be tempting to take that car park at the front door of the shop, but parking a street or two away and taking a bag to carry your items can make the task of handling a few errands the perfect time for some incidental exercise. 

3. Make walking part of the commute 

If you’re heading into the office, consider driving part of the way, parking, and doing the rest of the journey on foot. As an added bonus for those working in the CBD, you will also probably find that parking a few blocks down the road is also a lot cheaper. 

If you take public transport, just get off a couple of stops earlier.

4. Keep your eye on the time 

If you’ve arrived at a restaurant early, or you have a free five minutes before a meeting, don’t just sit down and scroll through your phone. Use the extra time to take in some fresh air and take a leisurely stroll. 

5. Keeping up with the kids

While the kids are at their weekly soccer game, dance class or ballet lesson, rather than sitting in the car and watching, pull on your sneakers and grab a front-row view on the sidelines. 

 

Boy running from his house

Let your kids push you toward hitting your 10,000 step goal. Image: Getty. 


 

6. Walk with a buddy 

A walking buddy can help keep you accountable, along with providing a great social connection. Meeting at a set time and place a couple of times a week with a neighbour, someone at the office or your partner can help you bowl over the steps in no time, along with catching up on the latest gossip

7. Make the extra trip

Rather than piling as many bags of groceries as you can in your arms when you get home from the supermarket, make individual trips from the car to the kitchen. You might also find that the niggling pain in your shoulder might vanish as well. 

8. Stop ordering online 

We’ve all got used to the convenience of online shopping over the past couple of years - especially during lockdown. Heading out to the supermarket and walking up and down the aisles is a great way to boost your daily step count. 

9. Check out the neighbourhood

Melbourne is renowned for hidden bars, cafes, and clubs. Once you reach a shop you’re looking for, take a quick walk around the block for some window shopping or finding some of those hidden gems. 

10. Walking meetings 

Skip the conference room for meetings. Instead, use the daily catchups with colleagues for walking meetings as you collectively head to the water cooler and back. 

If it’s a one-on-one meeting via phone, pop in your headphones and take the meeting on-the-go.

Woman exercising looking at a fitness tracker

A step tracker is a great way to keep track of your target. Image: Getty


 

11. Take the stairs

Especially for office workers, the temptation of taking the elevator to the second floor may be tempting, but more often, taking the stairs is much faster. 

Of course, if you work on the 35th floor, the stairs might be a tad ambitious – and you don’t want to walk into your morning meeting sweating like a pig. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get off a floor below and walk the rest of the way. 

12. Take the dog for a walk 

Dogs love a walk, so making this part of your daily routine is not only good for you, but vital for you best friends’ health. 

Some pet owners have also been spotted walking their cats, birds and even turtles for a walk for an adventure (be mindful to keep a slow pace for your turtle).

13. Walk after dinner 

Getting into the habit of a 20-minute walk after dinner can help you digest your meal faster and can become a great bonding experience for couples and families. 

This is particularly a great option during daylight savings time. 

14. Let the kids take control

Play a game with your kids - and let them choose the game!

Kids will more than likely to opt for an active game like hide and seek, nerf gun challenges, chasing games or kicking the ball around the backyard, which will increase your step count.

15. Walk for the sake of it

Rather than mindlessly watching TV for hours on end, get outside and aimlessly wander. The health benefits of walking are obvious, but there is a direct correlation between exercise and mental health. Use your free time to better your body and mind. 

16. Know your limit

The goal of 10,000 steps may be the recommended daily step target for healthy adults, but it might not be the right target for you. Depending on your weight, age and fitness level, you may need to reduce the goal and try to increase it week-by-week. 

If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor who can help you set a realistic daily step count that works for you.

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