10,000 steps and the benefits of walking

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

The company I work in has recently finished competing in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC). What is this you might ask? The GCC provides employers with a simple and engaging way to create a true culture of health right across their business.Each year, for a period of 100 days, hundreds of thousands of employees around the world compete in teams of seven as the GCC takes them on a journey that will improve both their physical and psychological health. What has this got to do with 10,000 steps?

Well, the core of the idea is that each member of the team is given a pedometer and access to their own record keeping web page. The premise is that you walk, or swim or cycle the equivalent of 10,000 steps per day. Walking can lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and it can lead to fat loss. It is recognised that the 10,000 step exercise burns at a minimum of 500 calories. In addition, the GCC programme adds in a number of discrete challenges at twenty-day points, plus advice on nutrition and lifestyle. The web site allows you to enter your daily pedometer total, compare yourself to your team and compare yourself to other teams.

The “challenge” for me was how on earth do you do this when you are an office worker, as I am? Well, the first “step” is actually committing yourself to participating in the challenge and continue to the end of the 100 days. Next, I remembered to put on the pedometer every day by putting it in the pocket of the trousers I was wearing. Here are some of the other tricks I used:

  • I would get off the train one stop short of where I needed to get to and walk the extra distance..
  • I would park at the far end of the office car park, then walk in. I would also park at the far end of the train station car park or even the supermarket.
  • I used the stairs instead of the lift. This was really hard as one of the offices I work in has 7 floors and walking up and down them numerous times a day was an effort.
  • I got into the habit of taking the dogs for a walk every day, in the evening when I got home from work and for at least an hour at the weekends.
  • I would walk to a co-worker’s office instead of calling, skyping or emailing.
  • When I was on a teleconference, I would stand and if possible walk up and down.
  • At lunchtime, I would make an effort to go for a walk outside of the office, or even walk around the car park a couple of times.
  • I would use the walks as time to practice mindful walking, as well as listneing to podcasts

Having competed in the challenge, I managed to walk on average 14,000 steps per day. Some days more and some days less. What else were the benefits? I’ve lost an inch off my waist. I am healthier and can walk further than when I started. I’ve seen new places as I have wandered about the offices I work in, as well as the local area where I live.

So what is to stop you from starting today? If you want further information, the National Health Service has a great website with further information:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/10000stepschallenge.aspx

I leave you, as always, with the following quote:

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

Nora Roberts

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