Cancer Research UK are running a campaign through March to encourage us to walk 10,000 steps a day to show cancer Who’s The Boss!
This is a great target for most of us to try to average each day as a norm. But if you don’t do anywhere near that number, jumping up to 10,000 steps a day every day can lead to problems, so it’s essential you do it right.
Our resident walker and musculoskeletal specialist, Matthew, discusses how best to start to get active:
“If you want to increase your activity levels – or perhaps you feel you need to – the first thing you should consider is what you’re doing right now.
“There’s a saying, “What gets measured, gets improved,” and it could not be more true than in this case. When I am working with someone who needs to increase their activity levels the first thing I do is look at where they are at now. And possibly the best, and easiest way to do that is look at their step count.
“The benchmark is 10,000 steps for most of us, but in many cases I will see people who are averaging 2000 to 3000 steps a day. To ask a person to increase their step count in one hit by 4- or 5-fold can be pretty daunting.
“So what I will do is look at ways to slowly increase this by 10% at a time. So if someone is doing 3000 steps a day as an average we will find ways to increase this to 3300 as an average. Once the increase is the norm then we will look at ways to increase it another 10% and so on.
“If you’re starting from a very low number then increasing your step count by 10%, improvements can be achieved relatively easily and without taking up much of your day.
“Some of the hints I give to my clients include:
- Instead of taking the washing upstairs in one go, take 2 trips.
- Putting the kettle and the tea bags on opposite sides of the kitchen.
- When you turn the TV off putting the remote back next to the TV set, this way you have to walk to the TV to put it there and walk there to pick it up again later.
“Although these may seem like silly things to do, they will very easily and without you noticing add that first 10% to your daily step count.
“As the numbers get larger and you need to add more and more, then the activities you do need to do become a little more proactive. (i.e. Moving the remote control isn’t going to add 500 steps to your count by the time you get to 5000 a day.)
“However, there are still ways to increase your step count without adding a long evening walks to your day. You’ve possibly been recommended some of these before but the reason why is because they work. My clients use them and it gets them more active and more healthy.
- Getting off the bus a stop earlier. Simple but super effective.
- Parking away from the office or supermarket door.
- Taking phone calls stood up and pacing. This is not always possible if you need to make notes or use your computer, but pacing up and down the room on a 15 minute call will add a fair few steps to your daily count.
- A walk around the block after tea. This should only take a few minutes and will add plenty of extra steps. This is a really good habit for everyone to get onboard with.
“The most important thing to remember when increasing your step count or activity, especially if you are starting from a low point, is to listen to your body. If you’re felling very tired, have a break. If something hurts, have a break or get it checked out. Fatigue and pain is often your body telling you to take a step back. As you get more active, fitter and healthier you will learn to listen to your body and know what it is telling you. Don’t ignore it or you are more likely to cause an injury or make yourself ill. If you are unsure about how to increase your activity levels, speak to a professional: A GP, a coach or a trainer.
“I’d also advise taking your time. Don’t expect to get yourself to 10,000 steps a day from 3000 a day in just a month. Be realistic and honest with yourself. If you get to 8000 and find that tough, stick at 8000 for a while until it becomes relatively easy.”
So get out there and get moving! If you feel up to it, commit to a cause and raise money for charity by walking a set amount each day.
Check out Club Insure’s March the Month challenge. Walking 11,000 steps a day for Prostate Cancer UK is a huge feat. The route takes the team from Romero Offices all the way to the Stadium of Light and back. Because of lockdown, this will be done virtually. Learn more about the cause here.