Toronto Physiotherapy

One of the most common questions our Toronto physiotherapists and chiropractors hear from our clients is simply how to get more exercise into a busy schedule. It’s tough enough to strike a work/life balance when it comes to the amount of time spent on work vs family or personal time. Add exercise to the mix and it begins to feel like an impossible tug of war on your precious time.

Walking Fit – 10,000 Steps

The answer to adding more physical activity to your day can be very simple: walking. Walking is an activity almost anyone can participate in, and only requires comfortable, supportive shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather.

The average person in our society with a sedentary job – and that’s most of us, apparently – walks about 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. The typical North American lifestyle involves a lot of sitting and driving, and not a lot of movement. It doesn’t take an expert in physiology to realize that is a recipe for weight issues and a whole lot more.

  • In order to burn an additional 500 calories per day, you will need to walk 10,000 steps. Every. Day.

It’s about far more than just the calories. Walking can give you a host of other benefits, including:

  • Lowering the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes;
  • Loss of fat as you gain lean muscle in the legs and calves.

Here are some quick tips on how to raise that 1,000 to 10,000 – every day.

1. Keep Track

Using a pedometer will help you keep track of your progress. The pedometer uses the movement of your hips to count the number of steps you take. There are simple gadgets you can purchase, or you can opt for a pedometer watch or even a cell phone app. Check it once in a while during the day to gauge your progress.

In terms of distance, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • It takes about 2,000 steps to make up a mile;
  • It takes about 20 minutes to walk a mile;
  • Ergo, you walk roughly 100 steps per minute at a brisk pace.

If you are unsure how to use a pedometer or what type would be best, don’t hesitate to ask your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist for advice.

2. Increase Incrementally

If you are beginning at the lower end of the scale, jumping straight to 10,000 steps per day will be a huge stretch. What's important is to begin the process of adding onto the number of steps each day. An increase of 300 steps is a good chunk of progress you can add daily, and you'll quickly see your numbers starting to rise.

3. Use the terrain

Using features such as hills and inclines will not only help you burn more calories. It will use different types of muscles throughout the body. Your muscles will both strengthen and stretch when you walk uphill and downhill.

4. Rev It Up

There will be moments when you want to stroll and enjoy the scenery, but for fitness, you want to ramp up the intensity of your stride even on level ground. That means walking faster and taking longer strides.

5. Add More Steps

There are many ways that you can add more steps to your day, and once these become habits, it will happen even without thinking about it.

  • If you commute using public transit, get off one or even two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • If you drive to work, consider a parking lot that is a 10 to 20 minute walk from your office.
  • Walk your kids to school. It means you will also have to make the trip back on foot.
  • Use stairs – especially going up – rather than an elevator or escalator.
  • Surprise your friends and colleagues by walking there in person instead of sending a text or email next time.
  • If you work in an office, get a standing desk, and a treadmill for home and/ or office so you can add steps even as you work or watch TV.

If you want to start a new exercise regimen of any kind, first, congratulations! But, if you are going from a sedentary lifestyle into a fitness routine, you’ll want to consult with one of our Toronto physiotherapy or chiropractic specialists first. Call one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics or drop by to make an appointment for your consultation today.