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10,000 Steps for Better Health and Better Sleep

woman walking in a city park in the fall

woman walking in a city park in the fall

How many steps do you take a day? With so many Fitbits and step-counting apps on the market, this calculation has become easy to track.

The more steps you take daily, the more exercise you are getting, which is generally a good thing. If you join the millions of step-counting people, we encourage you to make the most of your ambition and set a goal that will improve your health and also the quality of your sleep.

The 10,000 Steps a Day goal has been around for a while, so that may be a great place for you to begin.

What Does Walking Have to Do With Sleep?

Good question! Walking, and other forms of exercise, expend your energy, which makes you tired. When your body is exhausted, it wants to sleep! That's why people who have a busy day seem to fall asleep before their heads hit the pillow. When you make a goal to walk more during the day, you are also getting your body ready for improved sleep. Just make sure you don't finish up your day's worth of steps right before bed. Exercise increases your body's adrenaline, which actually will keep you awake longer. Try to relax for an hour or two before bed.

Speaking of relaxation, stress is a sleep-killer. If you're feeling stressed out, your mind might not want to turn itself into sleep mode. What is one way to fight stress? Exercise! Set your step goal and feel the stress relax away.

Walking gets you on your feet and off your seat. We understand that a lot of jobs require sitting down much of the day. That means you need to fit in your steps in other ways, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther away. Part of the goal of taking 10,000 steps is to make you less sedentary. Being more physically active really does fight off chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. And guess what? People who get enough sleep also have a better chance of being healthy and better able to exercise.

Are 10,000 Steps a Day Absolutely Necessary?

While we don't want to discourage you from reaching for the stars and hitting the recommended goal of 10,000 steps, we do want to encourage you to be realistic. 10,000 steps, or about 5 miles, might be an unrealistic goal for some people. That's because we are all made differently. Some of us have certain restrictions, such as lack of time, age, health problems, or injury. If you find that you walk 5,000 steps on a normal day, and you want to challenge yourself realistically, then set a goal of 5,500 or 6,000 steps. Walking won't be enjoyable for you if your goal is too high.

When you are looking for results out of your walking routine, you need to understand that 10,000 is not a magic number. You can get healthy results from as low as 4,000 steps, if that's the type of person you are, and if you are still upping your activity level. Remember, not all exercise includes stepping! You could be combining your walking routine with these types of non-walking activities:

  • muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight-lifting
  • exercises that use your body weight as resistance, like push-ups and leg squats
  • low-impact exercises, such as swimming
  • flexibility exercises, like yoga

The more intense the exercise, the more health benefits you'll get, which includes better sleep!

How Can You Improve Your Health in the Short Term and the Long Term?

If you're one of those people who can't possibly reach 10,000 steps tomorrow, then you need a new goal and a more realistic plan to improve your health.

  • First, determine how many steps you can reach realistically. Make sure you really can succeed! You'll be encouraged to keep going at it for the rest of the week if you reach your step goal. 
  • Second, work in some of those non-stepping activities that we mentioned above.
  • Third, improve your eating habits. Drink more water, eat more veggies and fruits, and cut out the sugar. Eating healthier combined with your exercise routine will definitely help you gain benefits of a healthier life. You'll have more energy during the day, your mood will improve, and you will be able to do more without stopping to rest. Plus, when you do take time to rest at night, you're going to sleep better and wake up feeling better.

Once you're on the right track, keep challenging yourself! Increase that step count goal slowly as your general health improves. In fact, keep that number 10,000 in the back of your mind. You might actually get to that goal someday!

Enjoying Your Steps, No Matter What Goal You Set

Keeping your step goal is so much easier when you enjoy taking steps! Try some of these great tips to put fun into your walk routine:

  • Walk with a member of your walking crew. Walking with someone helps with the enjoyment factor. Real Simple recommends walking with different people, so you're changing things up sometimes.
  • Be mentally productive while you walk. Sky Above Us suggests listening to something educational while you are taking your steps. Or brainstorm ways to make money. Or think of things you are grateful for. Using your brain and your body is a great way to improve your whole self.
  • Switch up the walking speed at different intervals. Next Avenue reminds us that walking doesn't have to be boring. You can spice up the variety by planning to walk at different speeds at different times. For instance, if you are listening to music, speed up your pace for every other song you hear.
  • If you're walking with your dog, you're probably already having fun because dogs are great companions. However, The Honest Kitchen suggests simple ways to amp up the enjoyment on your dog walk by doing some obedience lessons, taking your dog someplace new, and building your dog's confidence with challenges along the way. 

The key to walking toward better health is really putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going, keep challenging yourself with realistic goals, and keep that great goal of 10,000 steps in your future so you always have something to look forward to! Nest Bedding is here to end your busy, step-filled days with comfortable beds that will help you get that healthy sleep you need. Contact us to learn more about our bedding and accessories.