In 2012 Matt Green decided to walk around New York City. And, he’s still going! Matt is on a journey to walk every block of every street in all five boroughs. It’s a journey of more than 8,000 miles! That’s one way to boost your Fitbit total.
But, I’m guessing that’s really not an option for you. It’s not for me, although I do love me some urban exploring. Quick side note…a few years ago I was visiting Manhattan for a couple days and decided to see Ground Zero.
My hotel was near the Empire State Building. I’ve been in New York a bunch of times and typically I will take the subway if I’m going that far. But, this time I had some free time so decided to walk. I saw a part of the city I had never experienced before.
But, what I really loved was this. During my walk three people approached me to ask for directions. Clearly, I looked like I belonged there. I wear that badge of honor proudly.
So, how can you boost your Fitbit total today without a quest like Matt’s? I’ve got 11 things you can do starting right now!
But, first I need to explain three important things.
- On average you will get 1,000 steps for every ten minutes of walking. If you want to boost your daily average by 3,000 steps you need to walk 30 minutes more than you are now. It’s pretty simple math, but knowing the Value of Ten is important for increasing your step count.
- Until somebody figures out how to add extra minutes to your day, the only way you’re going to add steps to your Fitbit is by exchanging chunks of time that you are currently not moving with chunks of time where you are moving. In other words, if you want to add 3,000 steps to your total you need to walk for a half hour that you are now normally sitting. It doesn’t have to be done all at one time, but at the end of the day you will have exchanged a cumulative total of 30 sitting minutes for 30 walking minutes.
- This is the most important one of all. And, I’m going to save it for last.
I am currently putting at least 20,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. My goal is to do this every day for a year without a break. I started my 20k One Year Step Challenge on September 1st. It may not be as impressive a journey as Matt Green’s, but you can check out my progress so far HERE.
When I got my first Fitbit, my daily average was less than 10,000. Since then, I’ve exchanged at least an hour and 40 minutes of sitting every day for walking to get to my current daily total of 20,000 steps. I didn’t do it all at once, but I have gradually made these exchanges over time. As the new habits of moving become part of my routine I make more exchanges. That’s how you do it…a little at a time. There’s no magic formula. Sorry.
Because the details of my life are different from yours I also can’t assume that just because something fits my schedule that it will fit yours. It probably won’t. But, what will fit are these general principles. Here are 11 things I used to do while sitting that I’ve exchanged for walking. You can probably make some of these exchanges today to boost your step count.
- Waiting – This one is HUGE. I never realized how much time I spent sitting while waiting. I’m almost always the first one ready when my family is going out. I now easily add a couple thousand steps to my total by walking while others are getting ready. My wife, Ava, recently had breast cancer surgery. I walked around the hospital while that was happening. You don’t have to sit and wait anymore!
- Multi-tasking – I am part of a morning show on a Baltimore radio station. It’s crucial that I spend about 20 minutes every morning getting my voice ready and warmed up. I used to do that sitting down. Now I do it while I’m walking around the station before we go on air. Thankfully, the building is pretty empty so my singing (that’s what I do…and it’s really bad) is not a distraction to others. Is there any task you currently do while sitting that you can do while moving?
- Talking on the Phone – I’m not a big phone guy, but I now see it as an opportunity to move. My mom likes to chat every so often and I’m almost always walking while we’re talking.
- Reading – I love learning and reading has always been my go-to for this. But, over the past couple years, I’ve exchanged some of my learning from reading (while sitting) for learning from podcasts. This has actually become a pretty big motivator for taking longer walks. Obviously, you can also listen to audio books while walking, but I prefer the world of podcasts for now. If you enjoy reading, can you exchange print for audio and a walk?
- Lunch – I used to take a full 30 minutes and sit while I ate and read. Now I eat and read for 10 minutes and then get up and move. Do you need a full 30 minutes to eat? If not, do you have the flexibility to get up and walk?
- Watching TV – I consume a lot less TV now than I used to. It’s hard for me to sit for long periods of time watching TV. But, I still do. The only difference is I now understand the cost. If I watch TV for an hour that costs me 6,000 steps so it better be worth it. And, some shows are. But, a lot aren’t and those are the ones I’ve exchanged. Is there 30 minutes of TV you can exchange today for a walk? That’s 3,000 extra steps.
- Internet Time – This one is much harder for me than TV. I am a curious person and the internet can be such a treasure for learning new stuff. It can also be a huge step monster for me. I still miss a lot of steps because I’m online. But, I’m getting better. I’m not a gamer, but that’s a part of this too. Can you disengage from the internet, social media, and gaming for 20 minutes a day and go for a walk? That’s an extra 2,000 steps if you do.
- Conversations – My wife, Ava, and I talk a lot. We talk in the car…we talk at meals…and we now also talk while we’re walking. Whenever I’m heading out for a stroll through the neighborhood I ask if she wants to go with me. I would never exchange my time with her for steps, but I will exchange time with her sitting down for a walking conversation.
- Commercials – I enjoy sports on TV and with that comes a bunch of commercials to sit through. Now I get up and move when they come on. This can easily add up to 5,000 steps while I’m watching my Ravens on a Sunday afternoon. You can do this with any network or cable TV show that has commercials you can’t skip past. When they come on get up and move.
- Face to Face – I do this at work. Instead of asking or answering a question by email, I’ll walk to a co-worker’s office for a quick conversation. I like the face to face better and it gives me some extra steps on my Fitbit before I leave for home at the end of my workday.
- Thinking – I think better when I’m moving. I don’t know if this has always been the case for me, but it sure is now. If I need to figure out a solution to a problem I almost always get up and walk around. I ponder most of my these blog posts while walking. I think through the general outline of what I want to write before I sit down at my computer.
These are all things I used to do while sitting that I have exchanged for moving. And, over the years I have made enough exchanges that I’m up to at least 20,000 steps a day. The benefits are tremendous.
But, there’s one more suggestion. And, it’s really the most important one of all. It’s actually two things that work together.
A daily step goal and the commitment to reach it.
I’m the King of 90%. There are countless projects around our house that are almost done. I reach 90% and then stop. Good enough, I figure. The same thing would happen if I didn’t have a hard step goal. I’d walk “a lot” every day and figure it’s good enough.
I need a specific step goal or my daily total would keep getting smaller. Good enough likely would be a little less than the day before. But, I am know I’m healthier in every way by moving more and sitting less. A daily step goal is crucial.
The second part is the commitment to reach the goal. That commitment is the fuel for this journey. It forces me, in a good way, to move when I don’t feel like it. I’m committed to reaching my daily step goal even when it is difficult. Stopping short is no longer good enough.
If you want to increase your steps it starts with having a goal and commitment. Once you lock into that you will see opportunities to move you’ve probably never noticed before. The result will be a far greater than the number on your Fitbit than you ever imagined possible. Doing that every day results in a changed life. Truly.
Go for it!
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