We all know that walking is good for us. It promotes bone and muscle strength, reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, and improves balance and coordination. Walking also has a powerful effect on our mental health, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety, and improve mood.
But on days when we’re feeling tired or the weather takes a turn, going out for a walk can be much less appealing – making it more difficult to get our steps in.
Most fitness trackers set a default goal of completing 10,000 steps a day – a figure that many of us have become used to hearing. Though scientifically, it’s yet to be proven exactly which step count goal would be most beneficial for fitness and longevity.
However, what we do know is that, in general, moving more is good for our minds and bodies – and aiming to increase your daily step count is a great way to start being more active.
It’s a good idea not to become too focused on reaching the specific 10,000 goal – as some days, this won’t always be realistic and might not reflect other forms of exercise you do, such as cycling or fitness classes.
Instead, it could be useful to set your own goals. For example, if you currently walk 400 steps a day, then aim to start by increasing it to 4000 – which is the rough equivalent of around two miles. Then you can always build it up over time.
It’s also worth noting that Public Health England and the Royal College of GPs are encouraging adults to focus on walking briskly, rather than counting steps alone. Our introductory guide to power walking explains how, with the right technique, you can get a full-body workout by introducing speed and power to your walking style.
If you’re looking to increase your step count in a bid to boost your activity levels, then there are lots of different ways you can do this – and some of them don’t even involve leaving the house!
Here are 17 creative ways to increase your steps each day.
1. Track your steps
One of the best ways to increase your daily step count is to start tracking how much you’re walking.
Fitness trackers and pedometers are great ways to stay motivated and encourage healthier habits because they increase accountability and make us more aware of our daily activities.
It can be easy to lose sight of how little we’re walking, so getting confirmation that you’ve only walked 200 steps today could be the nudge you need to start making some lasting changes.
Simple pedometers track how many steps you do and shouldn’t cost more than £20. However, fitness trackers like Fitbit* can record lots of different things, including distance, heart rate, calories, and even sleep.
You can buy both pedometers and more high-tech fitness trackers from Amazon. If you’d like to find out a bit more, you might be interested in our list of the best fitness trackers of 2022. Once you start tracking how far you’re walking, you’ll probably find that you’re even more determined to increase your step count each day.
2. Walk to get your shopping
If you usually drive to the shops to buy food, why not try walking instead?
If your local supermarket or high street is within walking distance, deciding to walk there is a great way to boost your step count – and if you carry your shopping back home, you’ll be getting a strength workout too.
It’s best to bring a backpack with you to take your shopping home in, as they’re designed to carry weight, and it’ll be much easier than carrying multiple shopping bags.
Plus, if you’re walking home with your shopping, you might be forced to buy less than you would if you were driving. So, you might get into the habit of doing a food shop more frequently and get even more steps in!
Alternatively, if you’d prefer not to carry your shopping home, you could always buy a shopping trolley and pull it along with you as you walk. Amazon sells a good range of shopping trolleys, as do Shopping Trolleys Direct.
3. Walk and talk
If you spend a lot of time at work on the phone, deciding to take that business call outside while you walk can significantly boost your step count.
Or, if you have one-on-one meetings with a colleague, why not skip the meeting room or Zoom call and have a walking meeting instead? You might find that getting outside helps give you a bit more inspiration too.
This method also works just as well to increase your step count when you’re at home. For example, if you’re catching up with friends or family, consider taking the call while you walk around the block or to the local park. Or, if you don’t fancy going outside, you could just walk around your home or pace in the living room.
For those of us who enjoy long conversations with loved ones, this can be a very enjoyable and effective way to up your step count.
4. Use walking to relieve stress
Whether it’s drinking alcohol, smoking, or eating sugary food, there are many ways we might try to deal with stress that aren’t good for our health.
But, getting outside and going for a walk is a great way to clear your head, feel more relaxed, and get a new perspective on things. Whenever you feel anxious or angry, try to get into the habit of going for a walk, even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes.
Aside from racking up lots more steps, when you get home, you’ll probably find you feel significantly calmer, more positive, and more grounded.
5. Do some household chores
Previously, we’ve written about how doing household chores can be an unexpectedly good way to keep fit from home – and it’s just as effective for boosting your step count.
Chores like mowing the lawn, gardening, mopping the floor, and vacuuming can be great forms of cardio. So if you want to get some more steps in but don’t fancy heading out for a walk, why not get out the hoover instead? As an added bonus, you’ll also end up with a clean home.
You can find more tips on how to get going in our article; 24 things to add to your spring cleaning checklist.
6. Park further away
When we’re looking for a parking space, many of us are in the habit of driving round and round in the quest to find a spot right outside our destination.
So, instead, why not deliberately choose a parking space that’s further away? It might not seem like much, but those extra steps to and from your car can quickly add up.
If you can’t walk to the supermarket, another option is to park at the furthest end of the car park and get some bonus steps in. Or, if you’re visiting a friend or family member, you could park a few streets away and enjoy the walk.
7. Find a walking partner or group
If you find walking with other people is a good source of motivation, why not find a walking partner or consider joining a walking group?
Meetup is a great website for finding out about local walking and fitness events. Here, you can meet like-minded people and join a fitness community.
Meetup is free to join and events are free too, unless an organiser decides to charge group members a fee. There’s also a fee to pay if you decide to organise an activity or set up a group yourself.
Joining forces with like-minded people who have similar fitness goals can help you stay motivated and look forward to walking – and it’s a great way to meet people and make new friends too.
8. Walk while you wait
No one enjoys waiting, but unfortunately, it’s something that we just can’t avoid. The good news is that you can use the waiting time to boost your fitness and get some more steps in.
If you’re waiting for a bus and it’s 10 minutes away, rather than sitting and waiting, why not go for a quick walk around the block?
Similarly, if you’re waiting for an appointment, ask how long the wait will be. Even if you don’t have time to go for a walk outside, you can walk around the building or pace in the waiting room.
9. Walk after a meal
Research has found that going for a walk after eating has several powerful health benefits – as well as being a great way to get some extra steps in.
For example, science tells us that walking after eating can improve digestion, help manage blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, regulate blood pressure, and promote weight loss. It doesn’t have to be a long walk – just 15 minutes can be effective.
10. Meet a friend for a walk
Instead of meeting for coffee or lunch, why not get into the habit of walking with your friends?
It’s much easier to talk to someone and connect when you’re walking, than chatting in a crowded coffee shop or noisy restaurant. Plus, you’ll be saving some money as well as boosting your step count.
11. Consider getting a dog
If you love animals and are willing to commit to having a pet, you might like to think about getting a dog. Dogs need to be walked, rain or shine, so if you want to make yourself get out of the house, this is a great way to do so.
Giving a loving home to a dog who needs one is also a wonderful thing to do, and there are many ways people benefit from having a pet too. For example, it can help to alleviate loneliness or provide meaning and purpose.
Check out your local animal shelter or dog rescue websites to see if there are any dogs you can take in. You can find your nearest Dogs Trust rehoming centres here, and find animals needing homes on the RSPCA website here.
You can also find out more about rehoming a dog on the Battersea Dogs Home website, or take a look at our complete guide to adopting a dog. However, before you decide to pursue this option, it’s important to make sure that you’re ready for the commitment that having a dog brings.
If you already have a dog, why not up your step count by walking them more? If you usually take your dog for a daily walk, you could make it a habit to walk them twice. Your dog will love the extra time outside and your body will thank you for it too. Alternatively, you could always offer to walk a friend or neighbour’s dog.
You can read more in our article; The health benefits of dog walking – even if you don’t have a dog.
12. Take the stairs
If you want to move more, you could make it a habit to avoid escalators and lifts and always take the stairs. You can do this whether you’re at work, at a train station, or in a shopping centre.
Taking the stairs multiple times a day can increase the number of steps you tally up far more than you might think. And, if you do wear a fitness tracker, you’ll often get points for both steps and climbing.
Not only that but climbing stairs is one of the best exercises when it comes to burning fat and strengthening and toning your muscles. It’s also great for your lungs and heart, and can give you an energy boost.
13. Get off a stop early
If you use public transport, you could try to get into the habit of getting off of the bus or train one stop early and walking the rest of the way.
Alternatively, if you don’t use public transport, you can do the same in a taxi or Uber – and you’ll also save yourself some pennies in the process. And who knows, you might discover a new corner of your neighbourhood or an exciting new shop along the way.
14. Take a moving break
Making it a habit to get moving during your lunch break is a great way to get your steps in while at work. You might also find you’re more focused when you return.
If you usually head out to buy lunch, why not try walking to a different area and checking out some of the shops or takeaways that are further away? Or, if you eat at work, you could go for a walk around the block once you’ve finished, or take your food to eat at a nearby park.
15. Go on a walking date
Getting in the habit of going for a daily walk with your partner is a wonderfully romantic way to reconnect while enjoying some gentle exercise.
There’s something lovely about taking a sunset stroll together and appreciating some of the small things you might otherwise miss, like the changing colours of trees or different flowers appearing.
16. Take the longer route
Deciding to take the longer route (weather permitting) is another good way to boost your step count. Whether you’re doing some errands or visiting a friend, you could try taking the scenic route rather than going there directly.
This can apply to much shorter trips too. For example, if you’re at work or at a shopping centre and need to go to the toilet, don’t go to the nearest one, go to one on a different floor – and take the steps, not the lift or escalators!
17. Consider investing in a treadmill desk
More of us than ever are working from home these days, and this is one trend that’s here to stay.
If you have a sedentary job, why not consider getting a treadmill desk? While these can be pricey, if you think you’ll be working from home long-term, you could see it as an investment in your health.
Walking while you type might take a bit of getting used to, but it’s an easy way to get more steps in and burn calories while you work. Plus, because exercise boosts the production of the neurochemicals that improve memory and thinking abilities, you might find your performance improves too.
You can either buy a standing desk and then choose a treadmill to go beneath it, or you can buy an all-in-one treadmill desk. You can read about some different types of treadmill desks here, or browse on Amazon and Treadmill Desk Store website to see what’s available to buy.
With a little creativity, it can become easy to incorporate more walking into your daily routine. Often, it’s the smallest changes that make the biggest difference. Combined, these can make your step count soar.
As you begin walking more, you might be surprised at how much it boosts your mood and changes your outlook on life. Many of the best ideas come to us while we’re on the move, and it’s a great way to feel calmer and more centred. Plus, walking can be great fun too.
For more advice on how to make the most of your daily walks and make them a little more interesting, take a look at our article; 10 rewarding activities to do while walking, or head over to the fitness and exercise section of our website. Rest Less Events also has a good selection of fitness classes, which are another great way to get more active.
Do you have any tips for increasing your daily step count – or are you keen to try any of these ideas? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.