The Top Reason to Track Your Steps—Plus, Ways to Take More

Keep tabs on your walking, meet your daily step goal and get a lot healthier.

Medically reviewed in September 2020

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If you’re like most people, chances are you’re not getting enough exercise. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Keep in mind, if you can get closer to 300 minutes of week of moderate exercise or 150 minutes of more strenuous activity, it’s even better. In fact, the more exercise you get, the greater the health benefits, experts advise.

Unfortunately, only 26 percent of men and 19 percent of women are meeting these new fitness standards, the DHHS reports. Adults who are inactive put themselves at higher risk for various chronic health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and depression. 

If these recommendations seem like unattainable goals, it’s important to remember that any amount of physical activity is better than none. Just try to move more and sit less, experts advise. Exercise also doesn’t have to involve a gym or heavy equipment, such as a treadmill. Shoveling, gardening, taking your dog for a walk and low-impact activities are all considered exercise. Even just a two-minute stroll offers health benefits and will count toward your weekly fitness goals.

Here are some ways you can add some extra steps into your day.

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Track your steps

Tracking your steps can help you meet daily fitness goals. Research suggests a pedometer, a wearable step tracker and even your smartphone, can help you get more active. The trick: You just have to stick with it.

Smartphone apps in particular are effective tools you can use to get active, according to a 2016 review of 15 studies. Apps that use an accelerometer, which automatically track how much you move, may work best. Why? It’s totally effortless!

If you own a smartphone—more than 75 percent of Americans do—you can easily track your steps, too.

Ready to get tracking? Sharecare, available for iOS and Android, can help you track every step you take throughout the day—and achieve your activity goals. Here’s how it works. Steps are automatically logged once you activate the tracker.

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Take the stairs

Need to go up or down a floor for an office meeting? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Small movements spanning one or two minutes—like climbing the stairs—that add up to 30 minutes of activity can be as beneficial as a trip to the gym, according to a 2013 Oregon State University study.

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Exercise while watching TV

Don’t be a couch potato. As you watch your favorite show, march in place, do some jumping jacks or try a plank to raise your heart rate. By finding ways to stay active during the day, you exercise your muscles and, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, reduce your risk of heart disease.

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Walk to work and on your lunch break

If you live near the office or the train station, a great way to add steps to your day is to walk instead of driving. You can also get off public transit a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way to your workplace. On sunnier days, venturing outside during your lunch break will help soak up some vitamin D and its much-needed benefits. Research also suggests a short stroll may help reduce stress and anxiety.

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Walk to a coworker’s desk

Instead of reaching out to a coworker via messaging, email, or phone call, take a walk to their desk to ask for help. Not only will you sneak in a few extra steps, but it’s easier to get your coworker’s attention. Face-to-face interactions can help ensure your message is properly communicated, and strengthen relations with your clients, coworkers and managers. You can also take your meetings on the move. Grab your coworker for a walk and talk instead of sitting in a conference room.

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Pace on the phone

Whether it's in the office, in the comfort of your own home or on the go, taking a stroll while talking on the phone helps fit some additional steps into your day. Plus, it can get circulation going and help avoid blood clots, especially if you’ve been sitting for a few hours. Even just fidgeting while you’re talking on the phone, watching TV, working on your computer or reading burns calories.

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Park far away

By parking your car further away from the entrance of a building, or on the top floor of a parking garage, you can add extra steps to get to and from where you’re going.

Bonus: Climbing parking garage stairs burns about 60 percent more calories as walking at a moderate pace. Just be careful at night or in dimly lit areas.

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Clean the house

Picking up around the house for a few minutes before bed is another productive way to pack steps into your day. Not only do you burn calories, but you reduce the anxiety and stress that messy living environments can sometimes bring.

During the day, run the vacuum or mop the floor to clean your house while getting in additional steps.


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Get others involved

The best way to a walking plan is to get friends and family moving with you. Grab your loved ones and go for an after-dinner stroll. Commit to lunch time walks with a coworker. Instead of happy hour, meet a friend to catch up in a local park. Have them track their steps as well—a little friendly competition might motivate everyone to move more.

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