Have you ever imagined that whenever you go to a doctor or physician, or dietitian, he asks you to stay active, and move more. Our mind questions what happens in our body by moving more or staying more active, instead of laying on bed, or following a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some reasons or some benefits of physical activity.
Imagine living a dull and boring life, binge watching tv shows, eating junk and staying in bed lying down idle, what happens is your body gets used to that routine, and stop releasing happy hormones, you get depressed, negative thoughts accompany you and lead to poor image of oneself. Physical activity is the savior here, which can actually do wonders in your life, from lifting up your mood to ensuring good cardiovascular health, maintaining your blood pressure, and many more.
Physical activity not only helps you get rid of the extra pounds, but helps strengthen your bones and muscles, shapes your body and motivates you to focus on yourself. There are multiple ways to stay physically active. You can start by baby steps following a simple routine of setting target every day. You may start with 5000 to 8000 steps per day which can gradually be increased to 10,000 steps.
What’s the Idea Behind 20,000 Steps:
You must be thinking when we can walk 10,000 steps daily and lose weight, then why put extra burden on one’s body and walk those extra miles. The answer is simple, your body will feel miraculously active, your metabolism will get better, your skin will glow, and you will become productive, all because of those steps you will take. It is believed that you always have to work hard to achieve or get something.
So, to transform into the best version of yourself, get up from bed and start walking.
Benefits of Walking 20,000 Steps a Day
With the idea of walking 20,000 steps a day, some people’s mind inquiries about the benefits of walking this much as they are more conscious and curious than others. The greatest and the most prominent benefit of walking 20,000 steps is weight loss and fat burning due to burning away calories. When you walk, the metabolism speeds up, utilizing the excessive fats stored in the body for energy purposes. This helps cut down the stored fat in the body. The faster you walk; more are the burnt calories.
The amount of weight lost is directly linked to the person’s weight, physique, metabolism, height, and health history. Some people lose more weight in a month by walking daily, and some lose it slowly. There are number of benefits apart of weight loss, which are discussed below.
1. Strengthened Muscles and Bones:
Walking makes you fit and strong. It has magical effects when it comes to muscles and bones. The muscles that work while we walk are quadricep, hamstring, hip muscles and the calf muscles.
They are continuously working when we are working at a continuous pace. Additionally abdominal and back muscles are also involved in walking, when these muscles work, they use up energy in the form of ATP as fuel. Daily walking makes the muscles strong and less prone to wear and tear.
Similarly, bone health is greatly improved by walking. The bones get strengthened, the bone mass is preserved, they are protected from arthritis and rickets. It further reduces the risk of fractures, improves the flexibility of joints and prevents skeletal injuries and pain.
2. Stress Reliever:
Whenever you are stressed out, go for a walk close to nature. This is a pro tip in managing stress related disorders, anxiety, and depression. Nature has its own way of healing. The trees, flowing water, mountains, and fresh air all are the precursors of happy hormones that lift the mood.
They inhibit stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and calm down the mood releasing serotonin, that helps boost the mood and suppress depression and anxiety. So, walk near trees and flowing water, if possible, this will help boost your metal health.
3. Respiratory Diseases:
Going for a walk, and gradually increasing the time and intensity of workout, helps building up the stamina. The longer you walk, and be consistent, more are the benefits. The lung diseases, like asthma, and TB are greatly improved by walking daily for some time.
Do not challenge your body or overburden it, rather go with the flow, allow the body to adjust to the conditions and then see the wonders.
3. Reduced Risk of Metabolic Diseases.
With the increasing population and poor lifestyle choices, chronic diseases are most prevalent and damage the body at metabolic levels. These include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and sometimes PCOS, and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to the co occurrence of all of them.
This syndrome is the leading cause of death worldwide with mortality rate of over 50%. The first line management of all these disorders is changes in lifestyle. These modifications include walking, doing regular workout, and making healthy dietary choices.
If you are suffering from any of these disorders, walking 20,000 steps a day is the best option for you. Follow this routine for 30 days along with dietary management and see the results yourself. If you are diabetic the you must monitor your caloric intake and timing, before and after walking as a prolonged walk may reduce the blood sugars to dangerously low levels.
Keep a snack with you that will provide you with instant energy when your blood sugar drops. If you are suffering from heart issues, then start off gradually, do not over burden your heart as it might prove dangerous. Walk daily but increase your steps daily e.g., increase 100 steps a day until you reach your goal.
4. Improved Gut Health:
Walking may prove beneficial if you have gastric issues, or issues digesting the food, reflux diseases, or acidity issue. Start walking every day and see your gastric issues disappear. As walking burns your calories, it detoxifies your body, and the toxins are removed via sweating.
How Far Does Walking 20,000 Steps Take You
A question may arise in our minds, how far actually 20,000 steps take you. This is solely dependent on the length of your step. If you take larger steps, then you cover more distance and vice versa. It may take you to approximately 1.6 kilometers or 1600 meters. It may vary depending upon the height, age, gender and step length.
What is a step?
A step is the action of putting one leg in front of the other, which when repeatedly done is referred to as walking. A step taken can be measured by measuring the distance between two feet when we raise the legs to walk.
Men and women have different step length which means taking equal number of steps can result in different distance being covered. So, walking 20,000 steps for men and women will lead to different distance being covered.
What is a mile?
Mile is the unit for measuring distance. One mile roughly equals 1.60 kilometers in total or 1600 meters. We can certainly convert steps in miles by using proper distance tracker app or step counter.
Many smart phones have this built in function or smart watches may also help you.
Walking vs any other form of physical activity
Physical activity is necessary for the proper functioning of the human body. Staying physically active can take any form, you might walk, run, brisk walk, swim or do workout. Similarly, exercise is of various types, including balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Walking is a cardiovascular activity that increases the heart rate. Walk is the best type of physical activity as it balances your metabolism, soothes your brain, glow up your skin, benefits the heart, lungs and reduces the incidence of chronic diseases.
How to Achieve 20,000 Steps a Day
Now when we have already discussed the benefits of walking 20,000 steps daily, let’s try to have a look at how we can start and how we can achieve our goal.
Strategies for incorporating walking in your daily routine.
There are multiple ways in which you can make yourself walk this much. These include.
- Park your car further away whenever you get out of your car.
- Make it routine to walk 30 to 45 minutes and gradually increase.
- Involve a friend or two so that you people do not get bored, keep pushing each other.
- Listen to the audio you like; this will divert your mind and keep negative thoughts away.
- Set your daily goal and track it to achieve it. Monitor your daily progress and try to achieve your target.
- Keep sneakers in your bag, so whenever you feel like walking, you can start right away instead of waiting.
A suggested step-by-step guide to increasing daily step count
Your daily step count can be increased by following simple tips and tricks and certain modifications here and there. These include:
- Walking up the stairs instead of elevator.
- Use public transport and go by walk instead of using cars.
- Do not talk while walking as you may have to use extra energy with walking, or you may burden your lungs and heart if you talk.
- Walk while you attend calls, this will help your body adjust to increased step count.
- Do your home and office chores yourself. Get your water yourself instead of asking maid or office boy
- Get up early in the morning, go for a walk, have a morning snack, do your morning rituals and then got office. Similarly, go for an evening walk. This will automatically make space for more steps when you walk to times.
- Lastly, don’t forget to track your steps.
Tips to stay motivated.
There can be multiple ways to stay motivated. These might be any of the following:
- Give yourself a reward, treat yourself to a cheat meal, or your favorite chocolate, or set a goal and buy yourself flowers when you achieve it.
- Listen to your favorite podcasts, or motivational lecture while walking in your headphones.
- Set your goals and eyes on the positive results you will see after achieving your goals. Place your goal and motivational quotes on a spare wall in your home. This will help you stay motivated for your goals.
Role of Diet
Diet plays a crucial role when you are walking this much. A compromised diet or the diet that does not fulfil your caloric requirement may result in unhealthy weight loss and deficiency of nutrients in your body. So, it is necessary to adjust your diet accordingly.
There may be a few changes that can be made in your daily diet routine which include.
- Avoiding excessive oily and fried foods is the key if you want your body to work properly.
- Take your proteins. This is the game changer, consuming 100 grams of proteins per day coming from different plant and animal sources proves beneficial. This includes foods like lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, and lentils.
- Consume good fats like omega, three fatty acids from olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds that provide essential nutrients. They can be incorporated as snacks before the walk or in the morning.
- Consume complex carbohydrates that help lower blood sugar and prevent the spike in blood insulin levels.
Common Challenges and Solutions
Despite numerous benefits of walking 20,000 steps, there are certain challenges that can hinder your way.
- Dealing with bad weather
These may be stopping your walk due to bad weather, this requires keeping an eye on forecast and weather conditions, so you may get yourself prepared. Seek shelter immediately if the rain starts. If the weather is hot and humid, always keep a water bottle with you to avoid dizziness and heat stroke. Keep energy drinks or sports drinks with you to restore your depleted electrolytes.
- Walking on busy days
You may find it difficult to manage 20,000 steps when you are having busy days with a hectic schedule. Make your schedule flexible and try to compensate for those steps during other days.
- Combating boredom
Boredom may hit you and demotivate you while walking. You may feel fed up with this routine. Try to involve your friends, or listen to music, or take the scenic routes, that will help you stay motivated! Journal your daily journey with pictures, this will help you be productive.
- Safety concerns
Always take your safety as the most important thing. This can be in terms of taking care of your body, and helping it give some relaxing time. Or the safety can be ensured by going for walk to safe places that do not have any sor of danger including wild animals, robbers or anything else.
Equipment Needed for Walking 20,000 Steps a Day
- Comfortable shoes that support walking
The most important thing while walking is finding shoes that are comfortable enough to support you while walking such long distances.
The shoes must be soft, flexible, and of perfect size according to your feet. When the shoes are problematic, this may result in foot injuries.
- Clothes that allow for movement and prevent chafing.
It is always advised to wear loose, airy clothing that allows you to move flexibly inside them and let air in. if you wear tight clothing, this will make you uncomfortable and ultimately, difficult for you to achieve your goal. Wear the clothes that do not irritate you because of constant friction as walking 20,000 steps might take longer.
- Fitness tracker or pedometer to monitor progress
An accurate way to measure or track your steps and progress is by installing a step counter or pedometer. Set your daily goal, give them body measurements, and your daily diet routine, it will help you a lot. It has built in functions that are quite useful, like calculating calories burnt. The app also track your daily caloric and fluid intake, so it might prove extremely useful.
- Other gear for comfort and safety
Other gear used while walking may be reflective clothing to make you visible while walking at night.
Water bottles are a must have while walking.
Keep a bag pack with you to put your essentials like sunscreen and snacks.
You may prefer wearing goggles and cap during sunny summer days
Risks of Walking 20,000 Steps a Day
There may be quite a few risks associated with walking 20,000 steps or 8.5 miles. They may be;
- The importance of listening to your body
Listen to your body how it responds walking 20,000 steps daily. Everyone’s body is not the same and adjusts differently in different situations and then the responses are also different. The importance of listening to your body can be seen when the body needs a break or is unable to achieve the daily target, so give it some rest, do not force it to walk. Walk as long as it does not strain your body and mind.
- Overuse injuries to watch out for
The body may get worn out or exhausted while walking. The ankle can get sprained. The muscles might fatigue out requiring instant energy. Calf muscles and hamstring muscles are most prone to injury. If precautionary measures are not taken it may lead to stress fractures. So, in order to avoid such injuries, be careful while walking and take care of the angles of landing foot.
- Tips on avoiding burnout.
One must pay heed to the fuel body needs while walking. To prevent burnout, take the required calories before you start walking. Keep fluids and electrolytes source with you in the form of sports drinks, or energy drinks, and water.
Can Everyone Walk 20,000 Steps a Day
A general perception in people’s minds is that not everyone can walk 20,000 steps, or not everyone should walk 20,000 steps. The people who must be careful include those with disabilities or illnesses.
- Guidelines for those with illness or disability
For people with illnesses like CVDs, or diabetes need to take extra care while walking these miles. They might burn out in the middle leading to life threatening conditions. Always take precautionary measures.
What to Do After Hitting the 20,000 Steps Goal
It may take you 15 20 days to get on track and achieve a target of 20,0000 steps. Once you have achieved it, now what’s next. Here are a few next steps.
- Maintaining progress is the key. You do not have to lose your momentum after achieving the target. Continue this routine, if not 20,000 steps but try to stay close. Consistency is the key, do not skip any day even if you do not feel like walking.
- Options for increasing or changing the level of physical activity might be an option. You may shift to any other physical activity easily because your stamina Is already built up. You may prepare for a marathon. You may start swimming or cycling or anything.
Q1: Should I walk 20,000 steps a day every day?
A1: Yes, start with fewer steps every day, then increase gradually and motivate yourself to walk every day. You may skip if you are having a hectic day but try to compensate for them in the coming days.
Q2: Are 20,000 steps a day good for weight loss?
A2: 20,000 steps a day will do wonders for weight loss as it helps burn lots of extra fats from the body, burning calories and leaving your body detoxified. It approximately burns 5000 to 900 calories depending upon a person’s weight and height and body’s metabolism.
Q3: Can walking 20,000 steps a day replace other forms of exercise?
A3: Yes, when you walk 20,000 steps, it is more than enough for a normal person. You need not engage in any other form of exercise if you are walking 20,000 steps.
Q4: How to relieve calf pain after walking 20K steps?
A4: You may follow a self-care routine that involves applying and massaging with coconut or olive oil daily before going to bed. You may dip you legs in warm water with little salt in it for 30 minutes or so,
Q5: How long does it take to walk 20,000 steps?
A5: It may talk an hour or more to walk 20,000 steps depending upon your speed and stamina.
Q6: Can I break up my 20,000 steps into smaller sessions?
A6: Yes, you may adjust them accordingly throughout the day. Split walking sessions in morning and evening times.
Q7: What is the recommended daily step count?
A7: Recommended daily count is somewhere near 6000 to 10,000 steps but you can increase them if you want to follow a certain routine.
Q8: What are some ways to add steps to my day besides walking?
A8: You must use the stairs, do home chores, park your car further away to achieve the goal.
In a nutshell, walking 20,000 steps daily will help you shape your life better. It will strengthen your body and mind in a few ways. It boosts your mood, makes your bones strong, strengthens your muscles, and prevents the risk of chronic diseases. So, one should join the transformation journey today to see your body achieve the best of its strength.