10,000 steps a day. It's what researchers say we need to be healthy. But how much effort does it take? A lot. Until you get used to it. Then it's just second nature.
But most people don't want to make that effort. So I wasn't surprised when I heard the average American takes just 5,117 steps a day. That's about half the amount we're supposed to get.
10,000 steps is the equivalent of walking about five miles throughout the day. I stay pretty active so I don't usually have a problem reaching that, but to see if I'm on track, I wear a pedometer from time to time to see how I'm doing. Here's how I make sure a typical day adds up for me.
1,000 steps: One hour of housecleaning, including sweeping, vacuuming, and going up and down the stairs several times to do laundry.
1,000 steps: Walking to the bank a few blocks from my house instead of driving.
6,000 steps: Going on a three mile walk. This is where you can really score some points. It's called exercise. And most Americans don't get enough.
2,000 steps: Everything else I do during the day, from walking to my car to grocery shopping to walking from the parking lot to work. Yes, I park far away, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and all those other tips you hear all the time. They really do add up.
Not getting your 10,000 steps a day? Put on a pedometer and see how you do each day for a week. Then challenge yourself. Say your average is 2,000 steps. Health experts suggest you add 500 steps a day to that number for the next two-week period -- so in this case, it would be 2,500 steps a day. Keep adding 500 steps every two weeks until you reach 10,000.
Walk, run, skip, play basketball. Whatever it takes to get you moving. And for crying out loud, take the friggin' stairs. 5,117 steps is unacceptable.
Image via wsuvancouver/Flickr