Pedometer Walking – 9 Ways To Add More Steps

Have you started pedometer walking only to realize that you fall drastically short of your daily step goal?

One way to increase your step count is to take at least one 30-60 minute walk during the day, but that is not always possible. In that case, you need to find ways to consciously add more steps into your day.

Before I list my 9 tips, let’s take a look at some basic pedometer walking facts. You might find them useful in estimating how much physical activity (in minutes) you need to add to your day to reach a certain step count. The figures are based on Fenton and Bassett’s pedometer walking guide.

1 minute of leisurely walking corresponds to 100 steps (500 steps in 5 minutes)
1 minute of moderate walking corresponds to 120 steps (600 steps in 5 minutes)
1 minute of brisk walking corresponds to 135 steps (575 steps in 5 minutes)
1 minute of aerobic walking corresponds to 150 steps (750 steps in 5 minutes)

Here are my 9 tips for logging more steps on your pedometer:

  1. Use commercial breaks to walk around the house or pace in place.
  2. Take a short 10-minute walk during your lunch hour. If you can’t go outside, run small errands or just walk along the corridors. Take the stairs whenever you can.
  3. Walk to a nearby store to shop for items. Before I got my pedometer, I used to be annoyed when I forgot to buy things. Now I just view that as a chance to get some extra steps.
  4. Dance! Put on your headphones, listen to your favourite music and dance. Salsa, samba or any fast music is great for this purpose. It’s no accident Zumba is so popular.
  5. Walk while you talk on the phone. The more you talk, the more you walk.
  6. Do jumping jacks, do some shadow boxing or jump rope. This is  good last resort way of adding steps if you’re short of your daily step goal.
  7. Take the long route. If you are in a habit of taking the shortest route wherever you go, find a longer one. These days I often take a long circuitous way to my grocery store. Much of my daily step count is fulfilled that way.
  8. Read and walk. I must confess I’m not very good at reading and walking at a same time, but you might be!
  9. Take advantage of your family members. Play tag, basketball or  dancing games with your children. An added bonus is improved relationships with your children.

Pedometer walking is great precisely because you always get immediate feedback on your increased physical activity. It keeps you motivated in making those small improvements in your life.



Pedometer Walking Program – Create A Simple Personalized Walking Program

Do you know how to get the most out of your step counter? Simply wearing a step counter is going to get  boring fast!

In order to gain all the benefits of using a pedometer, you need a pedometer walking program that is both easy and challenging at the same time.

Establish Your Baseline

Before you start your walking program, you need to define your current level of physical activity.

Your first task is  to simply measure your daily steps for 3-7 consecutive days, wearing your step counter from dawn to dusk. It’s a good idea to include both workdays and days off in your measurement period.

This is also a great way to assess your level of physical activity.

TIP: It’s important to avoid the temptation of changing your daily routine during the measurement period.  It might be a good idea to tape the screen of your pedometer ( if you use a model with a flap, just keep it closed) so you don’t see your numbers during the day.

Remove the tape and jot down your daily steps just before you go to bed.

An Example Of Calculating Your Baseline

Let’s say Susan walks for 4 consecutive days to establish her baseline. Her daily steps are 5,634, 3,477, 6,545 and 2,555. To get her baseline, Susan adds the four numbers together and divides the sum with four = (3,634+3,477+6,545+2,555) / 4 ≈ 4,553 steps. (This means Susan is in the sedentary group).

Two Progressive Pedometer Walking Programs

Now you’re ready to create your own pedometer program! Below are my instructions for two simple programs: both are based on gradually increasing your daily steps, with the difference that program #2 proceeds more briskly than program #1. If you like challenges, choose program #2.

You’re supposed to set yourself a new step goal every week until you reach your long-term goal. More about long-term goals later.

Program 1: Add 500 Steps* Program

In 500 steps program you simply add 500 to your baseline to get a step goal for your first week. Thus,  Susan’s first week step goal is 4553 + 500 = 5053 steps.

During the first week Susan strives to add 500 steps every day, but doesn’t quite make it. Her average step count for Week 1 is 4950 steps. Based on that number, her second step goal is 4950 + 500 =  5450 steps. The step goals for the following weeks are calculated in the same way, till you reach your main goal.

Program 2: The 20% Boost Program**

The 20% boost program was originally devised  by Felton and Bennett.  In this program, you calculate your first step goal by taking 20 % of the baseline and adding the result to the baseline.

Susan’s first week step goal would be 1.2 x 4,553 = 5464 steps.

Let’s say this time Susan’s average for week 1 is 5200 steps, so her step goal for week 2 is 1.2 x 5200 = 6240 steps. And so on.

Setting a Long-Term Step Goal

What should your “ultimate” step goal be? An often quoted step goal is 10,000 steps/day which roughly corresponds to walking 5 miles. In most cases that’s enough for healthy adults, but nothing prevents you from aiming higher.

10,000 steps a day is sufficient to gain all health benefits of walking.

For children and adolescents, the goal should considerably higher than 10,000 steps, i.e. 16,000 steps per day. For elderly people and people with health issues, 7,000 – 8,000 steps per day might be a more realistic goal.

Happy walking! 🙂




*State of Wisconsin Pedometer Walking Program (PDF)
**Fenton & Bassett: Pedometer Walking