Discover ways to optimize your movements and make the most of every step you take.

For the last year or so, step counters have become one of the most popular apps and gadgets for those with a mind to get fit.

Now that you have one, how do you begin? The American Heart Association recommends setting a goal of 10,000 steps per day as a benchmark for improving your health. That’s about five miles. If you are just starting out, it might be an unrealistic goal.

Try not to think of those 10,000 steps as a chore. Make it part of your regular, healthy regimen. Maybe start with just 5,000 steps the first few days and gradually work your way up to the end number. There’s a great deal of satisfaction when you start hitting those number goals.

Most trackers measure the kick of your leg and hip motion when walking. Try keeping your tracker around waist level to help pick up every step. That could be as simple as clipping it to your waistline or fastening it to your wrist. If you are running, it might be best to attach it to your waist since people typically run with their arms bent.

Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, it’s important to calibrate your stride for the device before you take off walking. Walk along a specific distance, say 30 feet. Then, divide the total distance in feet by the number of steps taken to determine your stride length.

Now that you’ve set your stride and fitted your device, use these tips to help you make the most of your movements throughout the day:

  • Try to always take the stairs
  • At home, make multiple trips when gathering laundry or clearing the table
  • Walk the corridors while waiting for a train, plane or subway
  • Walk every aisle when shopping
  • Take the dog on a longer walk
  • Make a walking date with friends or family
  • Park on the outskirts of the lot at work or where you’re shopping
  • Walk around the house while using the phone
  • Walk in-place while cooking or folding laundry
  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual and take a walk around your neighborhood or home