You can finally walk 10,000 steps per day by adding 3 easy walks – in the morning, afternoon and after dinner. This 3-walk program is easy to fit into your day, and once you work up to the walking time it can take an average person to above 10,000 steps. By breaking up your walking into short walks, you can fit up to an hour of walking per day into manageable chunks that you can do wherever you are – even at home! You’ll burn more calories, get some amazing health benefits and feel great to finally hit your 10,000 step goal.
Read on for a simple 3-walk daily walking program, why it works, and how to make extra time in your morning, afternoon and after dinner to get your steps in!
Most people can hit 10,000 steps per day while still finding time in even a busy schedule with 3 relatively short walks:
- 15 minutes in the morning
- 15 minutes in the afternoon
- 20 minutes after dinner
That 50 minutes of walking will take you around 2.5 miles, and get you 5,000 steps or more!
Depending on your overall daily activity apart from these walks, walking speed and step length (which affects how many steps you’d get per hour), you might need to add a few extra minutes to ensure you hit 10,000.
Why it works
Most people can find 15-20 minute blocks of time in their day with a little planning, and a 20 minute walk is short enough that most people can complete it without issues. That extra 50 minutes to an hour of walking per day will fulfill your daily recommended activity requirements as 60 minutes per day is recommended for additional health benefits.
Here is some quick math behind the program: The average American gets about 5,000 steps per day. You’ll likely get between 2,000 and 2,500 steps per mile (for example 2,095 at 6 feet or 2,357 at 5 feet 4 inches). That means that most people would need to walk 2 to 2.5 miles to get the 5,000 steps needed. At a brisk 3 mph, you’d need to walk for 50 minutes to walk 2.5 miles – exactly what we’re going for with this program.
15-20 minutes makes a great walk for several reasons. It works out to about a mile of walking, which most people can handle without special prep or taking much gear with you. 20 minutes is also long enough that you can still properly warm up and cool down, while getting at least 10 minutes of fast fitness walking time.
15 minutes in the morning
Starting your day with a 15-minute walk is a great idea in any case, and helping get you to 10,000 steps is only a bonus.
Getting your steps first thing in the morning lets you get your steps out of the way before distractions and life can get in the way. Walking helps you feel energized, which can wake up your mind and body and prepare you for the day ahead. Getting up earlier can help you find more time in your day as well. You’re probably not super productive close to bedtime, so if you can get to bed 15 minutes earlier you’ll trade sedentary time for an active morning walk. You may also find you sleep better as well!
There are usually few people out early in the morning, which makes it a great time to get your steps in peace and solitude. If you’re walking in summer, mornings are cooler and more manageable than daytime heat.
How to make time
Creating a morning walking habit is not as difficult as it sounds. Set out your clothes, shoes and any other gear the night before – preferably away from your bed. Have your route planned out as well. The more automatic you can make your walk, the easier it will be for you to take that first step in the morning. Make sure you go to sleep a bit earlier so that you can still get your sleep.
You can also take a look at your morning routine to see if there are areas where you can save some time. You might be able to get your news by listening to a podcasts while walking instead of watching TV, for instance. Taking care of some tasks the night before (when you’re not groggy from just waking up) can also save some time in the morning.
15 minutes in the afternoon
Take a few minutes after lunch or a quick afternoon break to get your energy up and get some steps.
Many people feel tired and down in the early afternoon, either due to the effects of a big lunch or your morning energy starting to fade. Surprisingly, walking actually gives you energy which can help get you through this period. 10 minutes of walking has been shown to give more energy than half a cup of coffee.
Walking also boosts your creativity and makes you feel great, which can make you much more productive during that late-afternoon down time. If you’re feeling tired or uninspired, taking a walk is the perfect antidote. It’s also important to break up your sitting time, as long periods of sitting are bad for your health.
How to make time
If you’re feeling unproductive, or if you find yourself checking the internet or social media instead of working, take a walk instead. You’re better off taking 15 minutes to get your focus and energy back than continuing to waste time. Try scheduling a break in the afternoon when you tend to get sleepy – this will depend on when you usually eat lunch and what your day looks like. You can also make some time during a lunch break by eating a smaller, quick lunch and taking a walk instead.
If you’re working from home, take this break whenever you’re feeling tired or unproductive. It’s still a good idea to schedule a mid-afternoon activity break, but you have more flexibility about when you’ll need the energy.
20 minutes after dinner
Walking after dinner helps get your steps as well as avoid some common sedentary behaviors!
Walking after eating can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels by causing your body to burn off some of that sugar immediately for fuel. Of course, you’ll want to consult your doctor to ensure that walking after eating is right for you – especially if you have a condition like diabetes. Walking after eating also can aid digestion, which can leave you feeling better as well.
Night walking is similar to morning walking in that you can help you get some solitary steps in as there will often be fewer people out. If you’re not a morning person, you may be more awake and energetic at night than in the morning. The drawback to night walking is that you can’t control your day and may be tired from unexpected events that can impact your walking.
Dinner is often the biggest meal of the day, which can leave people tired and full. If you know you’re going to walk after dinner, you’re likely to eat a bit less which can help you eat healthier. Many people plop down on the couch after dinner to watch TV or otherwise engage in sedentary behavior as well. By walking instead of watching TV, you’ll cut sedentary behavior and get more steps at the same time!
How to make time
Take a day or two and write down how you spend your evening and after-dinner time. This will help you identify how much time you could use for activity without making any other major changes. If you usually watch TV, check to see whether you can get the same (or similar) programming in podcast form. Podcasts are great for news, sports, pop-culture and other topics and you can listen while you walk instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Night walking has a lot in common with morning walking but night walking is often darker, so make sure to take night walking safety into account. Some people have trouble sleeping after exercise, so try to eat a bit earlier and walk a bit earlier if possible to avoid this issue.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer now 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.