5 creative ways you can sneak in extra steps

You probably know walking more – up to 10,000 steps per day – is important for health. Here are 5 ways to sneak extra steps into your day and hit your personal step goal. Get more steps at work, at home, doing errands, around the neighborhood and more and you’ll be surprised how fast you can build up your step count to your new fitness goal.

If you can’t find more time in the day and don’t want to jog, it’s time to get creative! Here are 5 areas where you can get more steps and 13 creative walks that can add up to 2,000 steps or more every day!

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Walk More At Work

Office workers walking and high fiving
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Walk and talk

Talking on the phone—or worse, waiting on hold—can take up a lot of time. Use that time wisely by getting up and walking around while you chat. It doesn’t matter where you go. You can walk in circles around your office or pace back and forth through your living room. Get a glass of water or take care of a quick task in another room. Just make it a rule that you don’t sit while you are talking on the phone. If your office phone has a cord that keeps you tethered, stand up and march in place! It’s especially important to stand up and walk for a minute or two every hour if you sit for long periods of time. A phone call is a great time to do it!

Take Breaks the Long Way

When you get up to take a break, refill your glass of water or go to the bathroom, take a longer route. Even an extra minute of walking each time might get you 100 steps or so, and if you can spare 5 minutes to walk you can really build your numbers. Walking can give you as much energy as a half a cup of coffee, so skip the lattes and walk instead for energy.

If you work in a multi-floor office building, try using the bathroom in a floor above or below yours. You’ll get a brief stair-climbing workout in as well as your regular steps. Walking helps boost your energy and mood as well as your creativity, so staying regularly active at work will help your productivity as well as lighten your waistband. If you’re able to take frequent breaks, getting active can make you even more energized and productive.

Talk Face-to-Face

Despite the rise of email and messaging apps, there’s still something unique about face-to-face communication. Try to get up and meet with your coworkers face-to-face wherever possible. There’s a good chance that you’ll save time and be more efficient talking rather than waiting for a response to your message. You’ll also build deeper connections and friendships in your office. Holding walking meetings is a great way to walk and talk as well. Walking (or standing) ensures meetings are brief and efficient, and help your office get more active.

Walk More At Home

Woman standing and changing channel on tv at home
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Use Commercial Breaks

If you’re watching your favorite show, stand up during the commercials and walk in place. Studies have actually been done on walking during commercials that found that those extra steps really do add up. On average, a one-hour show has between 11 and 15 minutes of commercials. Since even the most casual walkers usually clock about 100 steps per minute, that could mean over 1,000 more steps by the time your show is over. So resist the urge to fast-forward and use commercials to your advantage.

If you’re watching your shows on a streaming service with no commercials, you can still get active while watching. Try to take a short walk between episodes, as binge-watching can lead to some serious sedentary behavior. Don’t skip the opening and closing credits – take a walk around the room while they’re on.

At-Home Cardio

You don’t have to leave home to get in a cardio workout! There are plenty of ways to do an in-home cardio workout that can be fun and effective. The easiest is simply walking in place, which you can do while watching TV or any normally sedentary activity. For added intensity, try jogging in place or other more intense activities.

If you’re not limited to only steps, try a bodyweight workout (we’re partial to those in our Pacer App), a yoga or stretching routine, or dance to music. There are plenty of free (and paid) resources online to get you started!

Track Your Chores

This tip is less about taking steps and more about tracking steps. Keep your phone in your pocket while doing daily chores to ensure your steps get counted towards your Pacer competition or group. You actually move more than you think cleaning, organizing, or doing other random household chores. These steps are easy to miss, and may lead you to think you’re exercising less than you actually are. You’ll have the side benefit or not forgetting where you put your phone, since it’s always nearby.

Walk More While Doing Errands

Senior couple walking with groceries
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Park Farther Away

Save time and get more steps by parking further away and walking more when doing errands. The walking part is obvious, but you also may save time by not always driving around and looking for the perfect parking spot. You’ll likely get at least a minute or two of walking when you consider trips to and from your car which can add up to a couple of hundred steps. Even small amounts of steps add up over the long run, and making errands a little less convenient can go a long way for fitness.

If you’re carrying groceries or heavy items, this can be more difficult. Carrying heavy bags can throw off your posture (just as walking weights can) and is, of course, difficult for many people. You can usually take advantage of shopping carts or some kind of system to take the weight off of your joints if you do park farther away. Not all errands require lifting heavy things, so get your walking done on those trips!

Do More Browsing

Instead of trying to get in and out when going on errands, take the long way around and get a few laps around the store before going about your purchases. While this does require a bit more time, it’s also efficient because you’ve already got dressed and made it all the way to the store. Getting in 10 minutes of extra walking around the supermarket or big retail store can be easier than getting prepped, getting changed and having the motivation to get outside once you’re already home. Make your browsing more productive by looking for special deals, new recipe ideas, or other useful tasks. Turn a quick trip to the grocery store into your 30-minutes of recommended daily walking!

Optimize Your Route

Do a bit of planning and optimize your daily or weekly errands for maximum walking. Here are a few quick ideas for how you can get more steps on your regular routine:

  • Find stores or shops that are close enough so you can walk between them, rather than spend time driving.
  • Save your heavy lifting for last so that you can do more walking with a light load.
  • Remember some regular parking spots that are far enough so you can walk but not so far as to make things difficult.
  • Go at the right time so there’s less of a crowd and more room for brisk walking. Weekend mornings are a great idea.

Walk More Around the Neighborhood

Several generations of family walking in the park
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Walk a Dog

Owning a dog gives you a very strong motivation to get out and walk. Your dog will make sure to remind you if you don’t feel up to it! While this is a no-brainer for dog owners, you can still do this one even if you don’t have a pup of your own. Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, or better yet, visit your local animal shelter and volunteer to walk a shelter dog. It’ll give you both an opportunity to add a few more steps, and you’ll probably make the dog’s day.

Play With the Kids

While adults often struggle to find time to walk, if you have kids you know it’s a struggle to get them to STOP running around everywhere. If you have young kids, you probably don’t have much of a choice but to get extra steps with them. If you don’t have young kids, consider helping out a family member who does on the weekends or when you have free time. Walking is fun for the whole family, and you’ll get steps while giving your relatives some much-needed rest.

You can also make an impact by volunteering at a local school, youth group, or after-school program. You’ll be helping a good cause and making an impact in the lives of kids while giving yourself amazing motivation to get more steps.

Walk More Anywhere, Any Time

Listen to your next book

Headphones on books - listen to audiobooks concept
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Most of us love a great story, so why not find a format where you can walk and still get in your entertainment fix? Next time you find a book you’re interested in, try buying the audiobook instead and listen while you’re walking around your house or around the park. Podcasts are a great free alternative as well. From news to self-help to celebrity talk to serials, there’s a podcast for you. Just grab your phone, a nice pair of headphones, walk and listen.

Remember Why You’re Walking

Write down the main reason why you walk for fitness. It could be how you’ll feel when you hit your step or weight loss goal, or you may simply want to stay active or have something fun to do. Keep that goal on a sticky note in a conspicuous place so that you’re reminded on a regular basis of why you need to keep walking. This will help to motivate you to get those steps. Better yet, get a friend into walking and invite them to join you on your daily walks. You can share progress and strategies and motivate each other to get more steps and reach your walking goals!

Alarm Yourself

Setting alarm on your phone
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Set periodic alarms on your phone or computer to remind you to get up and walk around when you’re working or browsing social media. Some people even set alarms every hour or half-hour just so they need to stop for a moment and make sure they are doing something productive.

When the time comes, walk to the drinking fountain or the kitchen for some water, then take the long way back to your desk, or even take a short walk outside. These reminders to get some water and move can help you stay hydrated and squeeze in a few extra steps throughout your day. Alarms can be especially helpful when you’re doing less-valuable tasks like browsing social media. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all we need to break the spell, log out and make better use of our time, like walking!

Walking can also boost your creativity and energy, which can be very useful at work. Setting an alarm as a gentle reminder, or at least remembering to walk every 30 minutes or every hour can help you be more productive and more energetic on the job.

Final Thoughts

With a little creativity, you can find plenty of unique and fun ways to help boost your daily step count and reach your goals. Walk in place while brushing your teeth, make multiple trips to bring groceries inside instead of carrying everything at once, stroll around the parking lot while you’re getting the oil changed in your car. Look for ways to walk in every situation and you might surprise yourself when you check those steps at the end of the day.

Get Pacer

If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.