Trying to walk 10,000 steps a day? These three top tips from a walking expert will help you cross the finish line

A man walking in a park
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kristi Blokhin)

Walking is one of the most accessible ways to weave exercise into your weekly routine. But whether you’re aiming for a daily step goal on one of the best fitness trackers or just trying to up your activity levels, it can still be hard to fit it in. 

To help you sidestep this issue, walking expert and WalkActive founder Joanna Hall has shared her three top tips for walking more and squeezing some extra mood-boosting movement into your day.

Walking expert Joanna Hall's top tips for boosting your activity levels

1. Piggyback an existing habit

A woman walking along a sidewalk with a cup of coffee

(Image credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab)

Everyone has habits, whether it’s checking your phone first thing in the morning or getting a coffee on your way to work. Whatever it may be, it’s a constant in your life, and Hall says you can use these daily behaviors to up your activity levels. 

She suggests "piggybacking" a set number of steps or minutes of walking on the back of a certain habit. For example, if you always have a coffee first thing in the morning, consider pouring your coffee in a travel mug and taking it for a wander around a park.

“It might be that morning habitual cup of coffee, letting the dog out at lunchtime, or getting up from your desk and making a cup of tea mid-morning," Hall says.

“You’re already doing the activity every day, so you already have that pattern and habit established in your body."

2. Plan routes from places you often spend time

A man walking with his son

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Evgeny Atamanenko)

Since chatting to Hall, I’ve tried using this tip a few times, and it’s my favorite of the bunch. 

“From a place you spend a lot of time, work out a five-minute, 10-minute, and 15-minute out-and-back walking route you can do,” she advises.

This could be your home, workplace, or the house of a friend you often visit. You might even make it to the gates of your child’s school or a supermarket car park – places where you often find yourself at a loose end will work best. 

Then, next time you’re waiting at this spot or you're 10 minutes early for a meeting, you can swap the usual endless scrolling on your phone for a quick stroll without worrying about planning a route, getting lost, or taking too long.

3. Split your day into smaller 'zones'

A woman checking her fitness tracker while walking

(Image credit: Shutterstock / MilanMarkovic78)

Hitting 10,000 steps a day is a common goal, but this five-figure total can feel intimidating at first. 

To counter this, Hall recommends breaking your day into a series of three- or four-hour zones, then trying to complete a more manageable number of steps in each one. 

This ups your activity levels, and can also help your mind and body feel fresher by getting you out of your seat at regular intervals throughout the work day.

However, if working arrangements and other commitments, don't allow for this, Hall suggests thinking of activity as a way of “bookending your day” and adding movement of some form into your plans before and after work.

Do you need to walk 10,000 steps a day?

Simple answer? No. A 10,000 steps a day target has been popularized worldwide as a holy grail for health, but the reality is that it’s just a number.

It supposedly started in the 1960s when a pedometer called the manpo-kei (or “10,000 steps meter”) was released in Japan. When Fitbit and other fitness trackers hit the mainstream, many took up this mantle by making 10,000 the default step goal. 

However, a 2023 article by the University of Granada says this figure “had no scientific basis”. The university also led a study which claims to have “provided the first scientific proof for how many steps you need to take per day to significantly reduce the risk of premature death: 8,000”.

This goal, it calculates, is equivalent to walking approximately 6.4km a day. The article also says that “researchers have shown that the pace at which we walk has additional benefits, and that it is better to walk fast than slow”. 

This is good information to have if you’re looking to set yourself a daily step goal, but it’s also important to consider your current activity levels before you pick a number to gun for. For the best chance of success, you want to set a target that's a step up from your existing daily step count, but is still sustainable and achievable.

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Harry Bullmore
Fitness & Wearables writer

Harry is a huge fan of picking things up, putting them down again and writing about it, which uniquely qualifies him for the position of fitness and wearables writer with TechRadar. 

He’s an NCTJ-qualified journalist with a degree in English and journalism and several years’ experience covering the health and fitness beat. This has involved writing for the likes of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Fit&Well, Live Science and Coach. 

Harry is passionate about all things exercise-related, having spent more than a decade experimenting with a wide range of training styles. He's used strength training, bodybuilding, Pilates, powerlifting, gymnastics, rowing, yoga, running, calisthenics, CrossFit and more to build a fit, functional body (and have fun while doing it). 

When he’s not writing or training, he can usually be found racing his dog Archie up scenic hills in the south west of England or working to complete his NASM-certified personal trainer qualification.