From your smartwatch to various medical aid programmes, you’ve long been told that 10,000 steps is the magic number when it comes to your health. That’s around a 8km run for the average guy, or the same as traversing the same distance as part of a hike or walk through the forest. While maxing out your step count is never a bad thing, it turns out that you don’t need to tiptoe your way to this tally every day.
Over/Under: Your New Step Count
Research from the Medical University of Lodz found that just cruising through half that total is enough to help you tap into some serious health benefits. The researchers looked at a group of 226,000 people from around the globe and discovered that just strolling through 2,300 steps could be a major boost for your heart and blood vessels.
Get up to around 4,000, and you’ll drastically slash your risk of dying prematurely. Bonus: for every 1,000 steps you take beyond 4,000, you can bolster your defense against the Grim Reaper by 15%. (Plus, it was those under the age of 60 that benefited the most from sticking to their step counts.)
In an era where everything—including your phone—is tracking your fitness, we’ve developed an all-or-nothing approach to dominating the digits. Rather than tunnel visioning into the metrics, it’s important to think holistically, i.e., taking some of your attention away from chasing that fabled 10k benchmark and making tweaks to your sleep schedule.
Let’s look at a few more ways you could boost your health:
1. Quit the Cigs
If you’re a nicotine fiend, it can be difficult to put down the smokes. But kicking this habit might be one of the best things you do for your health by not only slashing your long-term risk of disease, but giving your fitness and well-being an immediate lift. Try some of our super effective, research-backed methods for ditching the darts.
2. Get Hydrated
A study spearheaded by Evian found that more than half of adults don’t drink enough water. Why? Most cited that they didn’t like the taste. But for those who did meet their hydration targets, more than half stated they felt more refreshed, and more than a quarter reported sleeping better.
The science is clear: staying hydrated is vital to your overall health. Studies have found that not only can you sidestep disease, premature death, and a variety of other ailments, but consistent consumption of H2O might even boost your metabolism, give you more energy, improve your performance during workouts, and—yes—get you to bed quicker.
Think you’re missing your targets? Try tracking your consumption using an app. We like Waterllama which will provide smart reminders throughout the day so that you’re never parched.
3. Sleep More
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults is failing to get enough shuteye. Sleep deficiency can lead to serious diseases,and even mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep can also cause you to gorge on high-calorie, sugary treats as your body does anything it can to keep you on two feet. In short: there aren’t many problems a good night of sleep can’t fix.
Struggling to snooze? We hear you, all that tossing and turning can be frustrating, to say the least. Here are a few tips to help you get more rest:
- No More Blue Light: If you’re in the habit of using your phone in bed, you could be putting an easy night’s sleep out of reach. This hue can suppress the secretion of melatonin, the chemical that’s released to get your body dozing. We recommend turning your bedroom into a “no-phone zone” so that you aren’t tempted to start scrolling through Instagram.
- Read a Book: Studies have found that reading a book in bed might help expedite the snoozing process and may also improve the quality of your shuteye. Bonus points if it’s something super boring.
- Set a Bedtime: Your body has a 24-hour regulatory system known as your circadian rhythm. That’s your internal clock which tells you when to be vigilant and when to hop into bed. Like mashing buttons in Guitar Hero, you need to be on beat with your internal rhythm. Setting a bedtime will ensure that you and your circadian friend are always in sync.
- Avoid Eating 1 Hour Before Bed: According to the American Time Use Survey, eating an hour before sleeping can increase your chances of waking up. Make sure you time your meals (and snacks) accordingly.