5 Things I Learned Walking 10,000 Steps For A Month

For instance, can it really help you lose weight?

By now we’ve all heard that 10,000 is the ideal number of steps to take per day. But why that number specifically? And are there any actual benefits?

It turns out the specific number of 10,000 was popularized by a Japanese pedometer company in the 1960s. Since then, many claims have been made about the benefits of walking so many steps a day. One study from California State University shows walking more each day can improve your mood, energy, self-esteem and happiness. Some calculations even suggest it’s possible to lose a pound per week by the calorie deficit created from walking 10,000 steps each day. Not bad!

My Goals and Expectations

I am in the habit of walking to work most days, but even then, I usually only hit 5,000 steps a day. Still, Los Angeles has great weather and I enjoy walking as a time to catch up on podcasts and audiobooks so losing a pound of week by simply walking a little more each day sounded pretty good to me – not to mention fairly attainable. After all, it’s just walking, right?

What I Actually Learned

It’s A Commitment

And honestly, a bit of a tedious one at that. The only day I hit 10,000 steps without thinking twice about it was during a visit to Disneyland. Every other day required constant accountability with myself and my pedometer. I took many lunchtime strolls around the block. I did lots of aimless wandering around my neighborhood which is a bit awkward without a dog. Many nights I got ready for bed only to realize I was 2,000 steps short and would have to change and go out again. On several occasions, while hanging out with friends, instead of sitting down and relaxing with a glass of wine I’d pace around their apartment which was effective but also stressful for my friends to watch.

The Importance of Proper Footwear

I consider myself a very sensible shoe person. On weekends I might dress it up with a heeled ankle boot but I stick to Converse and Vans for normal weekday attire. While these usually suit me just fine for walking 15 minutes to and from work, when I ramped up my walking to 10,000 steps I felt betrayed by my casual sneaker standbys and craved something with a little more cushion and arch support but didn’t want to wear my neon running shoes to the office on the daily. If attempting this challenge yourself, I suggest investing in some cute but supportive sneakers.

Beware of Snacking

The thing about your physical activity and hunger is that one has a direct effect on the other. While I was excited about doubling my activity each day, I forgot to anticipate the overwhelming snackiness I felt as a result. I found myself craving little bites all day long and the effort of taking so many steps a day made me feel more deserving of extra fuel. Also, after the first two weeks of aimless wandering it became much more appealing to get my steps in by walking to a snack worthy destination. Salt & Straw, anyone?

Not Necessarily A Great Weight Loss Method Alone

At the end of thirty days, I was shocked to see I HAD GAINED THREE POUNDS. Increased muscle mass? Perhaps. My body fat percentage went up a measly 0.2% but my waist measurement also increased by half an inch which indicates that it was visceral fat gain – likely from all the aforementioned snacking.

To be sure, that’s not to say this challenge can’t help anyone lose weight. Just that walking 10,000 steps alone does not guarantee any results – especially without monitoring your diet. If weight loss is your primary goal, anticipate that you will have some cravings and be prepared with healthy options to fuel you through your month of marching.

But Great For Improving Mood & Sleep

Although I didn’t experience the physical transformation I was hoping to see, I definitely felt other benefits. I was in a great mood for most of the month. While getting my steps in each day felt a bit tedious and repetitive, it also gave me a sense of accomplishment to check off each day. Forming a daily habit of making time to catch up on the phone with friends or listen to interesting podcasts or audiobooks was a much happier alternative to sitting at home and scrolling on social media. I also slept so well throughout the month and found myself going to bed much earlier.

For those reasons alone, I’d still recommend this challenge! While I personally found 10,000 challenging to stick to every day, I have no doubt that there’s a happy compromise that will deliver all the positive benefits without overrunning yourself.

Comment below and let us know how many steps you take in a day!

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