How to Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day on a Road Trip

Road Trip
Road Trip. Ascent/PKS Media Inc./The Image Bank/Getty

Taking a road trip can trip you up when you're intent on making your goal of walking 10,000 steps per day. It's often not easy to schedule stops so you can get out and move around. Here are tips and tricks to sneak in steps so you can make your goal on your pedometer or fitness band.

1. Take a Walk Before Your Road Trip Day Starts

It pays to get a jump start on your goal before you get in the car. Each 15 minutes you can spend walking will add about 2000 steps to your total.

You can plan a walk around the neighborhood or on the treadmill.

If you can log at least 6000 steps before you get in the car, you will have a much better chance of reaching your goal for the day without stress. Try to do most of the packing the night before to leave you a little extra time to get in your walking workout. Sync your steps to your computer or app before you leave home, just in case your pedometer is lost or loses power. You don't want to lose any of those hard-earned steps.

2. Be Sure You Have a Fresh Battery or Fully Charged Tracker

You don't want to go to all of this effort to make your 10,000 steps goal only to discover you pedometer or fitness band is dead. Make sure your charging cable is packed and you have a USB adapter in the car to recharge it if need be. If your pedometer has a replaceable battery, put one on your packing list and bring it along just in case. While an extra stop to get a battery would be an opportunity for more steps, it may not make up for the lost ones.

3. Plan for Active Rest Stops to Log More Steps

Break out the map or mapping app and locate rest stops along your route. If you have a fitness band or smart watch that has an inactivity alert, you'll want to keep it happy by stopping once each hour. If you are on a major highway, they may have public rest stops.

Otherwise, locate where there are gas stations and quick food stops where you will be able to get out and walk around for a few minutes. It takes a minute to two minutes of standing and walking to satisfy the Fitbit Alta, Jawbone UP, or Apple Watch. You'll be able to stroll you way to about 100 steps per minute, so each 5 minute stop can mean 500 more steps towards your goal.

4. Compete With Your Car Mates

We all know someone who hates to make any stops once they hit the road, and they may be the one driving the car. It can take some negotiation to get your trip companions on board with your step goal and the extra stops. Turn it into a game and competition. If they don't have a pedometer, pick up an inexpensive one. Compare your totals at the beginning of the trip and after each stop. Keep a leaderboard and give a prize at regular intervals.

5. No Drive-Thrus—Get Out of the Car and Walk

When you make a meal stop or a drink stop, never use the drive-thru. Often that means several minutes of continued sitting when you could have been walking.

It's often just as fast of a stop to park, walk into the restaurant, order, get your food, and go back to the car. While you're waiting for your order, you can shuffle a bit in place or walk around the restaurant. This adds up to steps you wouldn't be logging sitting in the drive-thru. You can easily add another 500 steps to your total, and more if you use the stop as an opportunity to take a walk.

6. Stop and See the Sights

Don't pass by a scenic viewpoint, park or historic site where you can easily make a stop. Stop, get out of the car and enjoy the view and the informational signs. Take photos, even selfies. Use this opportunity to refresh your mind, stretch your legs, and rack up another few hundred steps.

7. Walking Around the Gas Station

When you have to pull into a filling station, take the opportunity to get out and walk around a bit. Hand over the refueling duty to your car mate if you can. If you can't march in place or circle the pumps while it the gas is being pumped. If you have a choice of paying at the pump or going inside to pay, always go inside. It's one more little bout of walking to add to your step count. If you are sneaky enough, you can suggest your car mate take the time to check the tire pressure, wash the windshield, etc. to buy you more walking time.

8. Take a Long, Active Meal Stop

When you know you'll have to stop for a meal, plan ahead for a place that has a pleasant walking area, such as a park or a pedestrian street. This way you can enjoy your meal and have a nice place to take a walk and add to your step count.

9. Plan for a Walk at Your Destination for the Day

Look ahead to see how you can add a nice, long walk when you reach your destination for the day. If it a hotel, check with the front desk to see if they have a suggested walking route or a treadmill in their fitness room. If you are meeting family, friends or business associates, suggest that you take a walk together when you arrive. You can say, truthfully, that you need to work out the kinks after a day on the road.

10. Sync Your Steps Before Crossing Time Zones

If your road trip takes you into new time zones, be sure to sync your steps before you cross over. Weird data glitches can happen with time zone changes. Your fitness band may think you were inactive when you weren't, or give you double steps for an hour. Syncing may not eliminate these, but it could help.

11. Hacks and Cheats

It is important to keep your blood moving when you are sitting for a long period of time. Sometimes you just can't stop as often as you would like, but you can engage in movement that your pedometer or fitness band will register as steps. Back and forth arm motions can trick many wristband models. Or, you can put your pedometer or fitness band on your shoe and try doing little kicks and foot tapping to register steps. Is it cheating? That's up to you to decide.

When you finish the day and have made your goal, you can feel good that you've stayed active. Not only did you make your goal, you reduced the risk of getting a blood clot from sitting too long. If you are the driver, regular stops and physical activity can help keep you alert on the road.

Next: Are You Flying? 8 Tips to Walk 10,000 Steps When Traveling by Air

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