In previous newsletters, we’ve written about the importance of walking and the impact it has on health. Walking is one of the best ways to improve physical fitness and cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness; plus it reduces the risks of strokes and heart disease, and as a bonus, it’s one of the easiest exercises to indulge in every day — walking only 30 minutes a day gives your body huge benefits!

However, the problem with walking, like many other exercises, is motivation. Getting a walking buddy and setting time aside each day are great ways to get into the habit, but you can also set specific goals for yourself. Our recommendation is to get a pedometer and count your steps. This tool will help you set those goals, see how far you’ve improved, and give you the extra motivation you need.

According to Harvard Medical School, several studies showed that people who wore a pedometer walked 2,000 more steps than those who didn’t use the tool, ultimately resulting in a 27% increase in their levels of physical activity. While pedometers can encourage you to take more steps throughout the day, that alone doesn’t ensure the motivation to walk. This is where goal setting is important.

The recommended number of steps per day for an average healthy adult is 2,000–10,000, which is about 5 miles. At first glance, this number looks overwhelming, but it gives you a good goal to shoot for with your pedometer strapped to your side. Head out on a walk and see how many steps you take in an average day. Then work your way up. Try adding 500 or 1,000 steps in the next several days.

For seniors or those with physical restrictions, walking 10,000 steps may be challenging or impossible. Even so, they may still be able to use or benefit from a pedometer. In these cases, the amount of steps you take doesn’t matter. What does matter is setting a goal that you can reach and hitting that mark every day.

Whether your goal is taking 1,000 or 5,000 steps, your priority should be finding the best routine for you and your health.