Fitness Tips

‘I’m a Walking Coach and These Are My Best 7 Tips for Fitting More Steps Into Each Day’

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Getty Images/ wsfurlan

Is it just me, or has logging those 10,000 steps felt at least 10,000 times harder in quarantine? My walk to work alone use to bring me at least halfway to that goal, and now, well… I’d have to stride between my desk and the coffee pot a few hundred times to appease my wearable. Fortunately, Michele Stanten, walking coach and ACE-certified fitness instructor, has years of experience squeezing in steps here, there, and everywhere—and she shared some of the said tips with me.

There are a number of reasons why you should pay attention to step count—even when there’s not anywhere to go apart from the grocery store. “Just like any form of exercise, we know that being up and active lowers our risks for a variety of diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and types of cancer), it boosts your mood, it reduces our stress levels, and it helps us sleep better,” says Stanten. “Our bodies were meant to move and when we sit too much, parts of our body start to break down and change in ways that they’re not supposed to.” Below, Stanten offers up the seven walking tips that’ll have you clocking your most miles yet.

1. Walk and talk whenever you’re on the phone (or Zoom)

During quarantine, catching up with all the people you no longer get to see on a regular basis can feel like a full-time job. Zoom fatigue is very real, but if you take your meetings or friend dates on your walk, you might just find renewed energy in those connections. “When you have to take a call, it’s a great time and an easy way [to get more steps in]—even if you’re just walking around your house while you’re on the phone,” says Stanten. All that pacing can ramp up your step count in no time.

2. When you’re running errands, park your car in one place and use your feet to get from store to store

If you’re in a location where stores have safely opened up, you might be near an outdoor shopping mall where you can hit all of your errands at once. Instead of driving from store to store, Stanten recommends parking in front of say, Barnes & Noble, and walking from there to Lululemon, Walgreens, Old Navy, or wherever else you might need to go. If your bags start getting heavy, drop them off at the car and walk to your next destination.

3. Walk while you wait

A lot of life is spent waiting—particularly if you’re a parent. When you drop your child off at a violin lesson or soccer practice, skip waiting around and appsturbating and opt for a walk instead. Even if you don’t have kids, you can use this trick when you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant or arrive a little early to a doctor’s appointment.

4. Make all your coffee dates on-the-go

While it’s always lovely to sit down with a friend and hear the latest on their lives, a walk might be an even better option. Right now, that means you get to be outside, and it’s easier to put six feet between you. So grab a coffee and find a local park to walk around while you catch up instead.

5. Park a half-mile away from the grocery store or restaurant

We’ll call this one the “half-mile rule.” Basically, wherever you go, just park half a mile away (that’s about 1,000 steps) so you get a nice walk in before your dinner reservation or trip to the grocery store.

6. Bookmark your workouts with walks

Trainers love to recommend walking as a workout cool down or warm-up. Personally, I like to finish my runs about a half-mile from home so that I can lower my heart rate before jumping into my post-workout stretch routine—and Stanten says she endorses that approach.

7. Put things away as you need—don’t pile them at the bottom of the stairs for one trip

“A lot of people will stack things at their stairs and then take them up all in one trip. Don’t stack anything at your stairs. As soon as you have something that needs to go upstairs or downstairs, just do it right then and there and get those steps in,” says Stanten. That way, you’re getting stairs and steps in at once.

How to track your heart rate on your wearable while you walk:

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Experts Referenced

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