How to get 10,000 steps every day when you have a desk job

If you are reading this article, it is probably fair to assume that you have at least a passing interest in health and fitness.  You probably also know, therefore, that for some years now health experts have touted 10,000 steps as the goal for most adults to achieve daily in order to enjoy health benefits.
10,000 is not a magic number; the idea is not so much that 9,000 steps is unhealthy or that 20,000 steps is twice as good, but that 10,000 steps is a great goal to aim for every day as it promotes healthier habits such as standing up and walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and getting outside in nature to move our bodies.

On a sunny weekend, when you have 2 full days to yourself, the goal of 10,000 steps can be relatively straightforward to achieve; even a hike in the morning that lasts a couple of hours will get you most of the way there.

Making sure you keep busy for the rest of the day by cleaning the house, running around after children or even going out in the evening and dancing the night away will all ensure your weekend activity smashes the 10,000 step goal.

But what about all the other days?  How can you possibly achieve 10,000 steps when you sit at a desk for the bulk of the day from Monday to Friday?  You eat meals at your desk, sit in a car or train on the way to work and take the elevator to the 24th floor.  By the time you get home it’s dark and you’re exhausted, but your wrist tracker only reads 3500, and that’s on a good day!

The key likes in healthy habits

As is so often the case when it comes to health and fitness, it is our habits that will ensure we achieve and maintain good health for our whole lives.

Taking the time and making the effort to build these habits will not only improve our sleep, our skin, our hair & nails and our mood, it can also mean a longer life and a reduced risk of such debilitating conditions as diabetes or heart disease.

Imagine for a moment you are moving through an airport or subway station. Do you use the moving walkways or escalators? Or do you take the stairs, simply because you have got into the habit of doing so?

If you watch the other commuters closely, you may notice that a small percentage always seem to walk in the direction of the staircase, or walk up the stairs between the escalators.

There are also the people who do use an escalator, but have made it a rule with themselves that they keep moving up the steps and don’t stand still.

It’s small habits like this that can contribute to your 10,000 per day.

If you take the bus to work, can you get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way?

Perhaps not if it’s raining or if it’s too hot, but when you arrive at the office there is always the option of walking up at least a few flights of stairs.

Let’s have a look at a typical day in the life of a desk worker and some other situations in which you might be able to improve your daily step count:

Steps first thing in the morning

Rather than checking your phone in bed, get up 20 minutes earlier and go for a walk outside. As well as starting the day with some steps up your sleeve, the sunlight first thing in the morning will help to regulate your circadian rhythm, which helps with the quality of your sleep.

The commute to work

If you walk to work already, well done! If not, could you start by walking part of the way, or even committing to walking home (so it doesn’t matter how sweaty you get!) If walking isn’t an option, how about a bicycle, or even public transport that you can get off a stop or 2 early and walk the rest of the way.

If your office is now in your living room post-COVID make a habit of getting up from your desk at regular intervals, and maybe run some chores like checking the mailbox to get an extra minute of activity in.

Lunchtime steps

Lunchtime is a perfect opportunity to get a proper walk outside in, or even a class at the gym or your own workout. At ATP Personal Training, our coaches can help you learn how to exercise effectively, so even 30 minutes will have positive effects on your health.

The rest of the working day

Try a stand-up desk, walk to the water cooler each time you need a drink (and aim for at least a litre during your working hours) or set your phone to remind you to get up and move every hour.  It could be going to the bathroom, the photocopier, or even popping out to get your morning coffee instead of getting in on your way to work.

Steps after work

For some, this is a great opportunity to go to the gym to unwind after a busy day. If the gym isn’t your thing then find a route home that takes a little bit longer but takes in some scenery, or a part of town you might not have visited before.

Walking can give your brain the opportunity to process what has happened during the day and means that, when you get home you can relax more effectively.

Steps before bed

If you can, get outside again, even for 15 minutes.  The light is different in the evening and your brain will know it’s time to get ready for sleep.  It’s the same concept as getting light exposure in the morning; by doing this at both times of day you’re setting yourself up for a really good night’s rest.

This should at least give you some food for thought. As with so many things, where there’s a will, there’s a way, so if you really want to take steps towards good health (see what we did there!) you’ll be able to work some more steps into your day, no matter what your current lifestyle.

If you need help or some professional guidance, then our coaches at ATP Personal Training would love the opportunity to help you. Press the link below to get in touch and get started!