"No matter where you are in your fitness journey, simply walking can bring you to the next level," says Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer and author of The Body Reset Diet. "Walking 10,000 steps a day is a great way to start your weight loss regimen or increase your results if you are already doing resistance training." Walking that much daily is approximately five miles, so unless you're in a profession where you're on your feet all day, it could be only a slight lifestyle change, along with a low-cost investment into a pedometer to get started. But by simply strapping on your trusty device and parking farther from the store, taking laps on your lunch break and going for an evening walk with your family, you could easily tally up the necessary steps without much thought.
We've all heard the Surgeon General's recommendation to have 30 minutes of activity a day. You may think this means running or hitting the gym for that period of time, but 10,000 steps is the rough equivalent to that 30-minute guideline. "Just walking doesn’t compensate for poor eating," says Pasternak. "But it does help you stay chronically active, which is the gold standard of leading health organizations."
Adding up to some significant mileage, those steps go a long way toward weight loss and fighting disease. The American Council on Exercise estimates that the average person can burn up to 3,500 calories per week, which equals 1 pound, by walking that much every day. Not to mention, according to the Global Corporate Challenge, that it can lower high blood pressure and reduce significant risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Jessica Simpson's weight struggles have long been documented in the press. After putting on a significant amount of weight during her first pregnancy, all eyes were on her to shed the baby pounds and get back in those Daisy Dukes. She enlisted the help of Weight Watchers for her diet and Harley Pasternak for her fitness. It wasn't two-hour-a-day workouts the singer relied on, but rather just walking. "The great thing about walking is a woman can do it immediately after giving birth while waiting for resistance training clearance from her doctor," says Pasternak. "Jessica eventually weight-lifted three times a week, but she had to stay consistently active. So she would walk 10,000 steps a day." Simpson posted pictures and tweeted about her weight loss progress, but mentioned long walks around her neighborhood rather than daily sweat sessions at the gym. Along with Simpson, TV host Maria Menounos credits walking 10,000 steps with maintaining her trim physique. And, the hosts of the Today show took on a 15,000-steps-a-day challenge for the new year.
As Jessica Simpson probably learned, there are many more perks to walking than just losing weight. That 10,000-step goal encourages you to walk outside on your lunch break, which can help your midday blues. It can lead to a romantic stroll with a significant other and a chance to slow down after a long day. Looking for a little alone time? This fitness goal can help you find the time for some daily self-reflection. And by involving your children in the activity, it promotes family bonding and a healthy lifestyle all around.
"Walking is a great activity for many reasons," says Pasternak. "It doesn’t preclude anyone, you don't need a gym membership, it's therapeutic, there's a social aspect to and it can provide personal transportation." Not only does this slight adjustment to your daily schedule shrink your waistline, but having time to clear your head or chat with family and friends makes for a nourished mind as well.
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