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As wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches from brands such as FitBit, Garmin and Apple have exploded in popularity, millions of people have made 10,000 steps a daily goal.

Why 10,000? The number’s roots date back to the 1960s when Japan’s first commercial pedometer hit the market. The manpo-kei or “10,000 steps meter” got things started, but studies since then have shown how walking 10,000 steps (or the equivalent of 5 miles) a day can have important health benefits, from burning calories to lowered blood pressure or blood glucose.

But researchers and doctors also emphasize that 10,000 is not a one-size-fits-all step scenario. For some, starting out at 3,000 or 5,000 steps a day can put you on the path to better health.

“Staying active throughout the day, whether you’re going for 10,000 steps or 3,000, is good for your long-term health,” said Collyn Steele, M.D., a board-certified family physician with Eagles Landing Family Practice. “And you might be surprised by how easily you can add more steps by being purposeful about how much you move.”

In addition to being good for your health, achieving that “goal reached” notification can be quite rewarding! So we’ve put together some tips to help you reach your magic number.

10 tips for reaching 10,000
  1. Instead of a large jug that you drink water from all day, use a smaller bottle instead. That way, you’ll need to get up for refills throughout your day.
  2. This one is tried and true: Don’t drive around searching for the closest parking spot at the grocery store, mall, or doctor’s office. Park farther away and get more steps on the way to the entrance.
  3. Leave your cell phone across the room so you have to get up to respond to a text.
  4. If possible, work out in the morning. Not only is it motivating to see all of those steps as you start your day, but you also won’t have to worry about the temptation to skip the workout later on.
  5. Instead of letting the dog out back to do his business, take him around the block instead.
  6. If you don’t have a device that automatically reminds you to stand each hour, set a reminder on your phone or computer to get up and move regularly.
  7. March in place or pace while talking to a colleague or friend on the phone, watching TV, or brushing your teeth.
  8. Instead of checking social media, use your lunch break as an opportunity for a short walk.
  9. Work in a large building? Don’t choose the closest restroom. Visit a different floor or department instead.
  10. Have children with afterschool practices and activities? Instead of sitting and watching the whole time, go for a walk while you wait for them to finish.
Starting an exercise routine but need to consult with a physician first? Find a clinic near you!

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