A recent study shows that Americans take fewer steps per day than virtually all other comparable countries. The study compared men and women from many different countries and found that Americans averaged 5,117 steps per day, nearly half as many as Australians (averaging 9,695 steps) and far fewer than both the Swiss (9,650) and Japanese (7,168). Unsurprisingly, the US has the highest percentage of obese adults (34 percent), compared to 16 percent in Australia, eight percent in Switzerland, and three percent in Japan.
Obviously, regular walking has clear health benefits — like weight loss and maintenance — but it also contributes to things like heart health and the prevention of diabetes. Adults are encouraged to walk at least 5,000 steps per day to receive these benefits, which, according to this study, a lot of adults aren't doing. The average person's step is 2.5 feet long. Each step adds up, so after the jump, check out some suggestions for ways to get more steps into your day. You may have heard some of them before, but a quick refresher can't hurt!
- Park in the last row at the mall, grocery store, or any other place with a huge parking lot. You don't have to park in parking lot Siberia, but parking just 10 spaces back gives you an extra 70- to 80-foot walk. That's as many as 32 extra steps in each direction in and out of the store.
- Take the stairs, not the escalator. If your commute involves a stair vs. escalator choice, take the stairs. If it's an especially long set of stairs (mine involves one of these), vow to split the difference and at least walk up the moving escalator.
- Instead of sending an email, IM, or other piece of ecommunication, get up and walk to a co-worker's desk. If you're worried about distracting or surprising her with an unsolicited walk-by, email or IM her to ask if you can come by. Then walk over.
- On a sunny day, take a 15-minute walk during the workday. Even if you're an eat-your-lunch-at-your-desk kind of gal, take 15 to clear your head, enjoy the sun, and fit in some extra steps. At a brisk clip, you could fit in a mile of walking in those 15 minutes — that's 2,000 steps added to your daily allowance.
- Pace. Steps count even if you're not going anywhere. On a long evening phone call at home? Walk up and down the hallway when you talk. Waiting for a table at a restaurant? Fit in a mini-walk while you're waiting for the hostess to call your name.