10 ways to cross off your 10,000 steps that don't feel like exercising.

Image: iStock.

When it comes to one of the most important numbers in life, 10,000 is a figure worth committing to memory. It’s the number of steps experts recommend you need to take every day in order to stay healthy.

Equivalent to around eight kilometres or roughly one and a half hours of walking, the 10,000 a day concept originated in Japan in the 1960s, before slowly catching on around the world.

“With so many people sitting all day at their desks,  the need to get people out of their chairs and moving is greater than ever. Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia – and a major risk factor is being overweight or obese,” says Glenelg-based personal trainer Susanna Parkinson.

“Doing 10,000 steps every day helps to increase our overall health and fitness and by counting the number of steps and becoming aware of our daily movement, we can make a huge difference to the health of our bodies.”

While it may sound like a lot, it’s actually quite an attainable figure – even if you work in an office all day. Here are ten ways to help you reach your quota without even realising it.

1. Take the stairs.

No, it’s not ground-breakingly new but it’s one that genuinely works. Ditching the escalator or lift in favour of the stairs is an easy way to get one (or many!) steps closer to the 10,000 mark.

2. Go searching for the perfect pair of sandals.

Yes, we are giving you an excuse to buy shoes but there’s a catch – you have to visit every shoe shop in your local shopping centre. Malls are basically marathons in themselves and you’d be surprised by just how much walking you can do in a shopping spree.

3. Boogie to a Taylor Swift album.

Or any album of your choice. Shut the door, blast the music and dance as if no-one (or everyone!) is watching. Not only is it a great opportunity to practise and perfect your d-floor moves, you’ll tick off a lot more steps than you’d imagine.

4. Have a walking catch up.

“Instead of catching up for a coffee, catch up for a walk – your bodies will benefit and you’ll still get to catch up on all the gossip,” says Parkinson.

Particularly in the summer months, swapping sitting indoors to a walk and talk outside is a great way to socialise and keep fit. Even better if you can bring your dog.

The same goes for chatting to a long distance friend – rather than calling her from the sofa, get up and move during your chat. (Post continues after gallery.)

 5. Run around with the kids.

Any parent will know that it’s near impossible to sit idle when there are children around – so use it to your advantage.


“If you have kids, take them to the local oval with a ball or cricket bat. You’ll be amazed at how many steps you can fit into a half hour play on the grass,” says Parkinson.

6. Go out for breakfast somewhere new.

Give your local a rest and try somewhere you’ve never been. Pick somewhere you like the sound of (the other side of your suburb or the next suburb to where you live) and walk there. It doesn’t have to be that far either; a place that would generally take you a 10 or 15 minute drive can typically work out being a 45 minute walk (half your goal!) – and that’s just one way.

7. Have a walking meeting.

Take your meetings out of the office to a place where you need to walk, or better yet, make the meeting itself a walking meeting.

“Research also shows that getting away from our desk at regular intervals helps to increase our concentration, alertness, memory and energy levels and therefore overall productivity. It’ll make your boss happy too,” says Parkinson. Just remember to wear comfy shoes.

8. Vaccum and dust your entire house.

Every square inch. Now we know cleaning isn’t the most enlightening activity possible but it’s actually a fantastic form of incidental exercise. Vacuum and then dust every room and not only will your house be spotless, we bet you’ll be closer to your 10,000 goal.

9. Listen to a podcast.

Podcasts are so engrossing that you won’t even realise you’re exercising when you listen – or you’ll want to keep going so you can listen to another. There are some fantastic ones out there for any topic, from This American Life to Death, Sex and Money – and of course Mamamia Out Loud.

10. Do the food shopping.

Have you ever noticed just how big supermakets are getting? This makes it the perfect place to fit in some steps. Often food shopping is done in a rush, but slow it down and investigate every aisle. You’ll find some interesting food for the fridge and have done some serious steps in the process – win win, we say.

Research has shown that aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day has a host of health benefits, with a 2004 review in Sports Medicine by researchers from Arizona State University finding it can help reduce blood pressure, improve glucose levels and reduce the incidence of disease.

Plus, thanks to the rising popularity in fitness technology like the fitbit and exercise apps, it’s never been easier to monitor. What are you waiting for?

How do you get your 10,000 steps?