If you’re working from home or stuck in an office, being indoors can really throw a wrench in meeting your daily steps goals.
It’s often frustrating to see your tracker numbers go down when you’re trying to get in some more steps.
But you can still reach your steps goal inside, says Michele Stanten, a walking coach, certified fitness instructor, and author of Walk Off Weight.
So try to fit in a walk — even if it’s short — when you can.
Then reevaluate your steps goal; it may be more realistic to lower your target right now.
Staten recommends wearing a tracker on two weekdays and one weekend day to get a baseline of how many steps you currently take daily.
Then aim for 1,000 to 2,000 more steps than that. Once you regularly hit that steps goal, increase again.
To help you reach your steps goal when you’re mostly stuck inside, consider these ideas:
1. Take the stairs
If you live in a house with more than one story, when you need to take something upstairs or downstairs, do it right away.
While it’s more efficient to let things pile up so you can make fewer trips, that won’t rack up your steps.
“See how many trips you can take in a day,” Stanten says.
2. Bring back commercial breaks
Thanks to dozens of streaming services that are out there, commercial breaks are mostly a thing of the past.
“Create your own,” Stanten suggests.
Commercials would typically happen about every 10 to 15 minutes. So when you watch a show or movie, set a timer for 10- or 15-minute intervals.
When it goes off, pause the show, get up, and do a lap or two around your house.
3. March in place
There’s no reason why you can’t march in place while watching TV, too. Think of it as a no-cost treadmill.
You can also do this while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, and doing other mundane tasks.
4. Bust a move
Crank up your favorite playlist and dance! Those steps count, too! Or grab your kids/partner/cat/pet and start grooving.
5. Schedule work breaks
“We know that getting activity helps you return to work more creative and alert and less stressed,” Stanten says. “If you work from home, set a timer and get up every half hour or at least every hour to move for at least five minutes.”
Walk around your house or your yard if you have one.
Pro tip: Check out our list of 26 no-brainer ways to move more during your day.
6. Compete with a friend
“Set a step goal and see who hits it every night, or just check in with them to hold yourself accountable,” Stanten says.
“That way if you commit to them, ‘I will take 8,000 steps,’ and at 8 p.m. you still have 1,000 steps to take, you’ll feel obligated to reach the goal.”
You can also decide to have a treat when you can get together again.
Maybe the person who hits their steps less often pays for both of you to get manicures.
7. Use the other bathroom
If your apartment or house has more than one bathroom, always use the one farthest away — ideally on another floor, if possible.
If you only have one, take a detour on your way back to work in more steps.
8. Pace while your food cooks
“When you have food in the microwave, walk around the house or up to your second floor and come back down,” Stanten says.
You can also march in place or pace in the kitchen.
9. Play hide and seek
Get the kids involved and always let them hide. Searching for them adds steps. If you have “fur babies,” play fetch or whatever game they love to get your steps in.
10. Chat and stroll
If you have a Zoom call, put on your earbuds or headphones and walk around your home while you’re talking.
Have an in-person meeting? Suggest taking it outside and walk around the block.
11. Walk before you eat
Take a short walk before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Stanten suggests. This will also help you work up an appetite!
12. Drink more water, get more steps
Determine how much water you should be drinking each day. Then commit to using the same small glass or cup for the entire day.
In order to reach your water goals, you’ll need to make multiple trips to refill it.
Even better, each time you get up, do a full lap around your house or up and down the stairs.
(Bonus: All that water might mean more steps to walk to the bathroom!)
13. Be inefficient
For once in your life, take as long as possible to do chores. So maybe you stop using the laundry basket and only take a few handfuls of clothing to and from the washer and dryer at a time.
Or you clean the sink in one bathroom and then the other, then go back to the first bathroom to clean the shower and then the second one … you get the idea.
14. Make it a game
You know how your kid has that one word or phrase they say all the time?
Each time they say it, do a lap or march in place for 50 steps. Have them join you while you’re at it.