How to Achieve 10,000 Steps Per Day
Aging Matters

Do you believe 10,000 steps a day is realistic? I've always enjoyed walking outdoors, not on a treadmill. But before two years ago, I never tracked the number of steps, only the miles or the time.

After buying a step tracker, I'm very loyal to reaching the 10,000 steps each day. If I don't, I feel guilty. The first year and half of owning a tracker, I lived in the suburbs and I found it difficult to achieve because the walk became routine and boring. It was the same walk every day. The landscape had little to offer and changing things up was impossible. Not a lot of sidewalks.

Other walkers who track steps have the same issues.

Recently, on the AARP blog, a woman wrote about her struggle to meet the 10K step goal. She asked, "So why am I struggling so much just three days into my self-prescribed challenge of taking 10,000 steps a day? At 7 p.m., I'm as exhausted as if I'd just led a power yoga class, yet I'm dragging myself around the neighborhood as darkness descends - with another 3,000 steps to go. Before I started wearing a tracker, I was sure I easily walked close to 10,000 steps, or about five miles, most days. But soon came the rude awakening that I don't take anywhere near 10,000 steps a day. Honestly, it's not usually close to 5,000."

I can assure you, every person who counts steps face these frustrations. But as soon as I moved to an urban area, the challenge of collecting all 10,000 vanished. Here's why: I walk instead of drive to run errands. That's the solution.

Fortunately, my new home is in a high-ranking walkable neighborhood, 100 being the best walkable score a location can have, mine is 93 according to the Walk Score website. And the ranking reflects how easy it is to get around without a car. However, it does not take into account how pretty the area is for walking. However, mine is gorgeous.

According to the Walk Score website, walkability offers surprising benefits to our health, the environment, our finances, and our communities:

  • Health: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
  • Cities with good public transit and access to amenities promote happiness.
  • Environment: 82% of CO2 emissions are from burning fossil fuels. Feet are zero-pollution transit machines.
  • Finances: Cars are the second largest household expense in the U.S. One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 of value for your property.
  • Communities: Studies show that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%.

If you enjoy walking and hope to record 10K steps a day, start out with 7,500 steps - adding 100 steps daily. And remember, other activities like yoga and dancing count too.

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Carol Marak, aging advocate, She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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