It's all about taking small steps, pardon the pun.
Walking is the easiest way to improve your general fitness and health. Photo: Diego Cervo / 123rf.com
10,000: That's the number of steps we're supposed to hit every day, going by recommendations by the Health Promotion Board and various health organisations around the world. Yes, walking is that good for our health.
It sounds impossible, especially if you're in a deskbound job and don't have a workout routine.
To cultivate this healthy habit, Shape writer Estelle Low took up a 21-day challenge to log at least 8,000 steps daily. The little activities add up!
I chose this healthy habit because… I stopped going for jogs and yoga classes regularly after having a baby, in order to spend time with her. My muscle mass had declined and my body fat percentage had gone up. Walking is the easiest way to get more active. Plus, I own two fitness trackers so monitoring my steps was effortless.
Cultivating this habit for three weeks was… doable with changes to my routine. I was already averaging 4,000 to 5,000 steps daily. I then started taking the park connector route home instead of the bus, and the 2km distance allowed me to log 3,000 more steps. It helped that I'm addicted to Pokemon Go. I was more incentivised to walk since I could "hatch" my eggs and gain Pokemon. On the second week, I planned a trip to Changi Village to walk and catch rare Pokemon at the same time. However, my most "successful" walk was a three-hour hike to MacRitchie's Treetop Walk with my colleagues. My tracker showed 16,276 steps, the most I've hit in a long while! Other changes I made include climbing the stairs at my apartment and at MRT stations.
After the challenge, I learned that… it’s easy to clock 8,000 steps just by making simple tweaks to my routine. It's sustainable and I will continue to strive for more steps every day. I feel more energised after a walk, similar to after a run.
Your advice for someone who wants to develop this habit? Get an activity tracker. Being able to see your daily steps, distance and calories burned gives you a good idea of your activity level, and whether you need to ramp it up. Comfortable walking shoes are also important. Check out established brands, which are constantly coming up with chic designs without compromising on comfort and cushioning.