If you ever needed a wakeup call to get moving, track your steps for a day. There’s a good chance you’ll be shocked at how little you walk when not thinking about it. When I dusted off my Apple Watch for the first time in over a year – 3,129 steps. That was my number while working remotely from home. And because I was nowhere in the ballpark of the 10,000 daily goal, I quickly kicked my butt into gear. It can be challenging when you’re stuck at home behind a computer screen. So here are some productive ways to get 10,000 daily steps while working from home.
Why is 10,000 steps the goal?
There’s a lot of debate whether 10,000 steps is too little or too much. The number is somewhat arbitrary, but the important thing is that it gives you a goal to work toward. 10,000 is a popular benchmark because it equates to roughly 5 miles and some studies have shown links to lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease (when combined with other healthy behaviors). The 10k number was actually popularized in the 1960’s by the Japanese.
And while the 10,000 step goal isn’t a one-size-fits all approach, it’s a good place to start. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of exercise each day, which may impact the amount of steps you get. And you may decide to alter your goal if you’re working toward weight loss.
Counting daily steps is an easy way to stay active and counteract fatigue from sitting at a desk all day. It’s important to keep your mind and body alert when you spend time at home behind a computer screen. Otherwise, it could take a toll on your mental and physical health.
What is the best way to count steps?
There are several different ways to count steps (including some manual options).
- Use a pedometer or activity tracker. Some of the most popular options include the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Garmin. If you’re on a budget, the Omron Alvita is simple and accurate.
- Manually calculate your steps. Find a route that is 1 mile long. As a general rule, 1 mile equates to about 2,000 steps. So if you walk 5 miles, you’ll reach your 10,000 step goal. This won’t be 100% accurate, but you’ll get a rough estimate. You can download a phone app like MapMyRun to track the distance you walk. Or route it out on Google Maps.
- Use your phone. Many phone models have built in pedometers. There’s a good chance your phone has been counting your steps without you realizing it. On the iphone, you can find it in the health app (which comes standard on iphones). The catch – you need to be carrying your phone around to count the steps.
So how do you reach your step goal when you’re stuck at home?
- 1. Pick up the house
- 2. Walk around every time you have a work call
- 3. Listen to Podcasts or YouTube videos
- 4. Chase kids (or dogs) around
- 5. Get a treadmill desk
- 6. Respond to emails and other communications
- 7. Yard Work
- 8. Use it as a brainstorming period
- 9. Suggest a walking work meeting
- 10. Use your lunch break to take a walk outside
- Other ways to stay active all day at home
1. Pick up the house
This is efficiency at its finest. You’ll probably need to organize and pick up the house at some point, so do it while collecting steps. It’s not exactly motivating to aimlessly pace around your house. But if you feel like you’re accomplishing something else at the same time, It provides you with that extra push. Walk around and put things away – you’ll knock both tasks out at once. And you’d be surprised at how many steps you can gain by simply doing the laundry.
2. Walk around every time you have a work call
Many of the popular video conferencing platforms have a corresponding app. And often you’ll have meetings that only require audio. Instead of plugging into your computer for your call, download the app and walk around with your phone. It’s a simple and productive way to pick up a lot of steps. Here are some common meeting platforms that also have apps:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
Once you adopt this strategy it has the potential to be a gamechanger. Plus, you’ll likely need ideas that allow you to get work done at the same time. It may not work the best for your video calls, but it’s an easy habit to change for all your phone calls.
3. Listen to Podcasts or YouTube videos
Podcasts and Youtube videos aren’t just about the entertainment. There is so much educational content out there. Find one relevant to your job or a skill you want to sharpen. When I walk around, I listen to SEO and marketing videos. There’s a podcast or YouTube channel out there for every subject. Find one of interest to you and listen as you walk around. This is another strategy that motivates you to walk because you’re staying productive by educating yourself.
4. Chase kids (or dogs) around
If you have young kids or an active pet, you already know how much energy they consume. This can be an advantage when trying to meet a step goal. Play the “try to catch me” (creative title, right?) game and chase your little ones around for a bit. They get exercise, you get steps. It’s really a win-win. Plus, they get more of your uninterrupted attention, which is never a bad thing.
If you have a dog, the same rules apply. Play tug of war or run around in the backyard.
This one could even be worth breaking the “no ball in the house” rule.
5. Get a treadmill desk
This is probably the best way to get a lot of steps in a short amount of time. And to do all of your work tasks at the same time. A standing desk will help your posture (and it’s a great habit to get into). But a treadmill desk will kick things up a notch.
One affordable, yet high quality option is this treadmill that fits under a desk. When you’re done it folds up and slides under the couch. Or if you already have a treadmill, all you need is this desk attachment.
And if you’re looking to go all in, this treadmill comes equipped with a desk and the ability to fold up to store neatly under the couch.
6. Respond to emails and other communications
Designate your walk time as a time to send and respond to emails. It’ll require you to have email on your phone, but it’s an easy way to get steps while working. If you send emails back and forth throughout the day, just get up and start walking every time you need to send an email.
Messaging with co-workers on an app like Slack is another productive way to get 10,000 steps while still working. Most jobs have some type of communication aspect, so use walking time for these tasks.
7. Yard Work
Similar to picking up the house, do the yard work you’ve been putting off. Rake leaves, mow, clean up toys, pick up after the dog. Whatever you have on your list, use your step goal as motivation to get it done. It may not be the most fun way to gain steps, but you’ll accomplish two things at once – leaving time for more enjoyable things later.
8. Use it as a brainstorming period
Strategizing for an important meeting. Coming up with a creative solution for work. Planning what you’re going to eat for dinner. Deciding what you’re going to get your mom for her birthday. All things you can brainstorm among a seemingly endless list of things.
When do you ever really set aside time to just think. Because you already have too much to do, it probably gets deprioritized as the last item on your to do list. But use your step goal as a motivating factor for some uninterrupted brainstorming. It’s much more productive than multi-tasking with all the other things on your list.
9. Suggest a walking work meeting
These are growing in popularity as more people work from home. Engage your coworkers in getting more active by organizing a walking meeting. Essentially everyone dials in and agrees to walk during your scheduled meeting time. Simple, yet effective. And a great way to encourage healthy habits company-wide.
10. Use your lunch break to take a walk outside
A major benefit to working from home is that you have easy access to exercise. Use your lunch break to go for a walk or run around your neighborhood. No gym required. Plus, you’ll get the added value of fresh air. Which, from personal experience, is not always easy when you’re stuck behind a desk all day.
Other ways to stay active all day at home
While step goals are a great way to keep yourself active when you’re working from home, there are some other approaches you can take. If you want to supplement your step goal or you just need a little extra oomph to keep your mind sharp, try one of these:
- Do some Youtube yoga in your living room (Yoga with Adrienne is a personal favorite)
- Set a timer and every hour do some simple desk stretches
- Block off your calendar each day for exercise. Do some easy at home exercises like push-ups, squats, or lunges.
- Buy some workout gear – think resistance bands or a stability ball (or an indoor cycling bike if you’re really looking to invest in your home exercise)
Spending even a small amount of time each day to exercise at home can improve not only your physical health, but also mental health. Working from home can lead to burnout just as easily as working from an office. By getting up and moving around, you can maintain a health work from home lifestyle.