Why This Woman Quit the Gym To Walk 20,000 Steps a Day Instead

Walking may be one of the most underrated exercises—not only is it free and improves fitness, but it also has many health benefits such as preventing premature death.

You would think that would be enough to encourage people to walk more, but it’s not always easy to reach your 10,000-step target. But Mia Lind swears by walking so much that she no longer goes to the gym and instead relies only on it.

Lind, from Los Angeles, California, recently racked up 800,000 views on TikTok by sharing a well-detailed video explaining why she walks 15,000 to 20,000 steps per day.

The 25-year-old told Newsweek: “My whole lifestyle and outlook on life have changed.”

A headshot of Lind.

Hot Girl Walk®/Provided by Mia

Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity, per week, according to the CDC. While walking is Lind’s most favored exercise and something she does daily, she continues to incorporate a few strength training sessions per week.

Lind’s walking journey began during the COVID-19 pandemic when her mental health was at an all-time low due to isolation. It wasn’t long until she noticed a “huge improvement” in her mood, energy levels and confidence.

Now, four years on, she is the proud CEO of her own walking club called Hot Girl Walk®. It is a 4-mile, outdoor mindfulness walk, where walkers think practice gratitude, and think about their goals and how “hot” they are—all while burning calories and getting fitter.

She said: “Since incorporating Hot Girl Walk-ing 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day—I have more mental clarity, decreased anxiety, appetite regulated, more energy, and overall higher fitness level.

“Hot Girl Walk-ing had me cancelling my gym membership because I was able to incorporate my exercise throughout my day, rather than shaping my day around driving to the gym, a long workout, driving back, and then showering and blowing out my hair.

“I am also so much more motivated to go out on a Hot Girl Walk because it isn’t intimidating, it’s easy, low-impact, and doesn’t leave me gasping for air.”

Is Walking Enough Exercise?

Lind wa
Lind aims to walk at least 15,000 steps per day. Here she can be seen enjoying a walk around her neighborhood.

Mia Lind/TikTok/@exactlyliketheothergirls

Lind recommends adding walking to one’s fitness regimen in her viral video shared to @exactlyliketheothergirls. She states that although she has “tried everything,” including indoor cycling and pilates, “nothing gives the feeling of pure magic” that walking does.

However, exercise physiologist Alexander Rothstein told Newsweek that walking is insufficient, even though you can experience both physical and mental advantages.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that the minimum amount of exercise most adults should engage in over a week is five days a week of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise for a total of at least 150 minutes a week, or at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week of vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise, or a combination of the two (moderate and vigorous) at least two to three days a week.

Rothstein, an instructor in the exercise science program at New York Institute of Technology, explained: “Walking to add steps to one’s day will not count towards the recommended exercise based on the ACSM guidelines. This is because the stimulus from walking will not be high enough to elicit fitness benefits and won’t be classified as exercise but will fit into the physical activity parameter.

“However, elevated heart rate is one way to measure exercise intensity and the time spent in certain heart rate zones can be counted towards the recommended exercise guideline.”

How Can Walking Improve Your Health?

Mia Lind
Lind’s company hosts huge walking events for women in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Australia. Here she can be seen with around 500 strangers who turned up to one of her events.

TikTok/@exactlyliketheothergirls/Mia Lind

Although Lind now makes walking a daily part of her routine, she acknowledges that it wasn’t always easy after entering the corporate world. If they don’t have a walking pad, people who work from home can probably agree that it’s hard to get enough steps in.

She said: “When I got a job in corporate America, I realized my normally active lifestyle hit a stark halt at my sedentary desk job. I’d still go on my Hot Girl Walks but found it increasingly more difficult to motivate myself to go on one 4 mile Hot Girl Walk a day.

“So, I changed my goal to fit my lifestyle and set a goal to Hot Girl Walk 15,000 to 20,000 a day. This empowered me to get steps wherever I could, whether it was during lunch, pacing around my room while I was cold-calling, etc. Then, at the end of my days, I realized I had so much more energy to dedicate to go on a long Hot Girl Walk.”

While the common recommendation is to aim for 10,000 steps a day for health benefits, research indicates that even fewer steps can be advantageous.

Findings from a study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology last year suggest that walking a minimum of 3,967 steps daily can lower the risk of mortality from any cause, and walking 2,337 steps daily can decrease the risk of death from heart disease. A 2019 study in JAMA Neurology revealed that approximately 8,900 steps a day might mitigate cognitive decline and loss of brain volume in individuals at elevated risk.

4 Ways To Increase Your Steps

Lind has shared the following tips aimed to help you walk more.

  1. Break the walk up throughout the day—for example: 20 minutes in the morning, at lunch and after dinner.
  2. Wear thick socks to prevent blisters.
  3. Stretch daily and use a foam roller/tennis ball to roll out your feet.
  4. Listen to your body! If you’re super sore the next day, take it easy.

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