Chances are you’ve heard about the fitness guideline of walking 10,000 steps a day. This tends to be the go-to goal for anyone who wants to move more, improve their health, and boost their mood — simply by putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all these juicy benefits that inspired the 10,000 steps a day challenge on TikTok, where you (surprise!) try to take 10,000 steps every day, no matter what.
To reach the 10,000 steps a day mark, you can walk on a treadmill, step in place at home, or go for a long meander outside, also known on TikTok as a “silly little walk.” It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, if it’s cold, or if you got in late from work — even marching in place while brushing your teeth works.
There’s no doubt it feels good to see a shiny 10,000 flash across your smartwatch, and aiming for a nice, round number is certainly a good way to stay motivated. But if you feel like you can’t make it that far, it’s good to know that shorter walks still add up. “While 10,000 steps are the baseline for most fitness trackers, studies indicate that reaching a goal of 7,500 steps each day is enough to increase your longevity,” says Erin Beck, the director of training and experience at Stride Fitness.
Finishing the day with a number closer to 7,500 — or however much you can do — is still worthwhile. “Good circulatory health, lower cholesterol, and lower incidence of diabetes are all health benefits resulting from regular exercise, and even a simple activity like walking to get in those steps can check that box,” Beck tells Bustle. Here’s more on the benefits of racking up some steps, plus how to do it if you want to get started.
The 10,000 Steps A Day TikTok Challenge
TikTok user @lexijaws made a commitment to walk 10,000 steps a day, and she’s still going strong well over a month later. One perk she noticed is how a walk can completely change her mood for the better — and often has the power to turn around a bad day. “Overall I’ve been more positive and have had a more positive outlook,” she said. “It just feels good to do it. Like, my brain is happy.”
Beck agrees that walking is an excellent way to clear your mind. Walking thousands of steps a day improves mental clarity, relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves sleep quality so you can wake up refreshed, she says. “Walking also helps relieve stress and tension,” Beck adds. “Sometimes the deliberate act of walking to get distance from a problem helps you get better perspective so you can address it when you return.”
TikTok user @shumirun has also been doing 10,000 steps a day, and often clocks in closer to 14,000. She’s so about the challenge she created a whole second channel to share her progress as someone who wasn’t always focused on fitness.
Whatever your starting point, regular strolls can be a good entryway into exercise. “The step challenge is a great way to hold ourselves to the goal of walking more and tap into what we love most about challenges — the support of a community cheering us on for getting in that workout,” Beck says. “I think whatever gets results consistently is what’s most popular, and walking definitely fits that bill.”
How To Walk 10,000 Steps A Day
Want to get in on the challenge? “I recommend beginning with an increase of 500 steps each day and challenging yourself to get in those few extra steps by parking your car a little further or finding workouts that make it easier to get in your steps,” Beck says. “You’d be surprised how many more steps you can get in with small changes to the things you already do.”
Beck also recommends using a step tracker if you can. “Check it a few times a day to make sure you’re getting in your steps,” she says. “To make it easy, divide the hours into steps — for instance, aiming for 1,000 steps each hour in a 10-hour [period]. Even though your day may be longer, you’ll have time to make up missed steps later.”
If you get bored easily, Beck suggests playing your favorite music, walking with your dog or a friend, or choosing new places to walk each week for a change of scenery: “Anything that helps you enjoy the time will help you get in more steps!”
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