Become a 10,000 (step) maniac

From Your Executive Committee

Elissa Lechtenstein and Wally get their steps in.

Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends walking 10,000 steps daily to improve overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease? Student pharmacists have become experts at counseling patients on lifestyle modifications to improve their lives but they frequently forget to make simple changes in their own lives. An easy way for you to improve your life is through routine exercise. 

Too often, I find myself wrapped up in studying for an exam without moving much for up to 6 hours. After an exhausting 8-hour sedentary workday, I find myself crawling right into bed when I get home. Over time, this lifestyle can lead to poor posture and a decline in health. The 10,000 steps mentioned at the start of this article is a baseline for you to reach each day. You may be surprised to learn that 10,000 steps translates to roughly 5 miles, which sounds like an insurmountable feat. But actually, with a few conscious modifications to a typical day, 5 miles may add up faster than you expect. 

You may be asking what is the best way to track your daily steps. Well, others and myself have found a step tracking watch to do the counting for us.

Great for you … and your dog

A few months ago, I purchased a step tracking watch and was astonished at the lack of activity in my daily routine. Unfortunately, I often reached only 5,000 steps per day, which is half of the recommended amount. Since this discovery, I have made a few small changes in my daily routine—many not involving the gym—which has had a huge impact on my daily step count. 

You can use these changes as an easy and efficient way to improve your overall health and well-being. The first change that I made involves walking my dog, Wally. I used to just walk him around the corner without much thought to my activity. After wearing the step tracking watch, I made the conscious decision to make each walk at least 1,000 steps. If you walk your dog 4 times per day, this will quickly increase your step count. This not only benefits me, but it also makes Wally very happy! Even if you don’t have a dog, walking for 15 minutes a few times a day is a great way to incorporate more steps into your daily routine. 

Another simple change I have made involves skipping the elevator and taking the stairs. A few flights of stairs, even if it is half of your trip up to your desired floor, can increase your amount of daily physical activity. 

I also started to incorporate what I call movement breaks. When I find myself sedentary for 60 straight minutes, I take a brief break and stretch my legs. This improves blood circulation to the limbs, gives me a mental break from the task at hand, and also reduces the strain on my eyes. If you are a television watcher, make an effort to get up and walk around the room during the commercial breaks! All of these small changes translate to a large impact on your daily movement. Since making these adjustments in my day-to-day routine my daily step count not only doubled, but it often is well above the recommended 10,000 steps! 

Competition time

Another motivational tool that many step-tracking devices have is the ability to compete with your friends in daily or multiple day step competitions. Personally, I find myself working harder on any fitness-related activities when faced with a little friendly competition and when there are bragging rights involved. 

I recommend that you take a moment to objectively evaluate your daily routine. Is there a chance for you to make small adjustments for a healthier lifestyle? I bet there is, and your changes will make for a happier mind and body. Remember, Together We Can make small changes to improve personal health and wellness, and set a positive example for patients.