I walk 10,000 steps a day without leaving the house and it's all thanks to my puppy - here's what our new family pet has shown me about fitness

Getting a puppy took me from sedentary to 10,000 steps a day without even trying

Three images of our writer's new puppy which has helped her to start walking 10,000 steps per day
(Image credit: Heidi Scrimgeour)

Our family got a puppy a fortnight ago. She's done what no personal trainer ever could; I am suddenly clocking up 10,000 daily steps without even trying. 

Between matrescence and mum guilt, it's hard to commit time to your health and fitness goals as a busy working parent.  So when my 10-year-old daughter's pleas for a puppy finally wore us down and we found ourselves saying yes to getting a puppy, I hoped it would help me to boost my daily step count. But I hadn't realised that it would prompt me to achieve my goal of walking 10,000 steps a day quite so easily.

Here's how I went from a fairly sedentary life as a constantly tired mum of three to walking 10,000 steps every day without even leaving the house...

1. I start my daily step count early

Lazy mornings are a thing of the past with a puppy in your life. I'm walking laps of the garden within minutes of my alarm going off in the morning instead of hitting the snooze button. 

Before dog ownership, I could always cancel the gym or cry off going for an early morning walk. But toilet training a puppy means there's no debate. Your step count gets going the moment you're awake because, well, nature is calling your furry friend. And the quicker you react, the less cleaning up you have to do. That's quite the fitness motivator.

2. I'm smashing my stand goal

It's well-documented that sitting for long periods like this can be detrimental to our health. As a remote worker with a cosy home-office setup, it's too easy for me to spend hours and hours at my desk, barely moving except for bathroom breaks and the occasional dash to the kitchen for more coffee. But since this bundle of boundless energy burst into my life, my Apple Watch has suddenly started congratulating me for closing my Stand ring every day. (The goal is to get up and move around for at least one minute every hour.)

I haven't consciously tried to spend less time sitting but it's another knock-on effect of puppy-owning life. Puppies are into everything so it's impossible to sit down for very long before you have to leap up to snatch something contraband out of their mouths. While writing this paragraph alone, I retrieved a Jenga block, an item of school uniform, and an unidentifiable remnant of something plastic (Lego?) from my puppy's jaws. 

Once you're out of your seat, you've got to find somewhere to place the confiscated item out of the puppy's reach. And since you're up, you might as well do a lap of the garden just in case nature is calling again. Usually, I find my pupster waits until we're back inside to answer the call of nature, so then it's off to the kitchen for the puppy accident cleaning materials. Then it makes sense to make a cuppa while you're in the kitchen and lo, you've racked up another hundred steps (and a bit of cardio-boosting cleaning) without even noticing.

Our writer's new family pet puppy

(Image credit: Heidi Scrimgeour)

3. Playtime has become a priority

When a puppy wants to play, only someone with a heart of stone could resist. It used to take a legit emergency to tear my away from desk during the working day, which is partly why I struggled to walk anything close to the recommended 10,000 steps per day. 

But when those tiny teeth start nipping at my slippers and those puppy dog eyes start pleading with me to pop outside for bit of rough and tumble, I can't say no. We're not even doing proper daily dog walks yet as my puppy hasn't had her second set of vaccinations, but it's amazing how quickly all those short bursts of puppy playtime soon add up to thousands and thousands of steps per day.  

4. Mealtimes are more mindful

Confession: I find it easy to work through my lunch break, either skipping lunch altogether or stuffing my face with something quick and easy (ok, Oreos, since you're wondering...) to eat between calls. I always intend to go outside for a walk at lunchtime but it rarely happens.  

Feeding a puppy at regular intervals has inspired me to put more thought into what I eat, too. She's so easily distracted that I have to stand by her bowl to encourage her to eat up, so I might as well use the time to prepare myself a healthy meal while I'm in the kitchen. That doesn't up my daily step count by much but it is yet another way that my puppy's presence in my life has had a positive effect on my overall health and wellbeing.

5. A final lap before bed matters

Much like getting my steps in early the moment my puppy wakes up, I've noticed that I never fail to do a few laps of the garden in the evening, now that I'm a canine parent. Before the puppy came to join our family, I'd sometimes spend the entire evening telling myself that I would definitely go for a run or hit the exercise bike soon. And then I'd often fall asleep on the sofa while watching Netflix. Now, my nightly routine revolves around - you guessed it - yet more laps of the garden before I pop the pup in her crate for the night and then fall into bed myself. 

And just like that, without trying and often without even leaving the house, my Apple Watch will tell me that I've crushed my Daily Move goal and clocked up another 10,000 steps. 

Being a puppy mum isn't easy. And it's certainly a pretty extreme method of increasing your daily step count. But I'm delighted that my favourite four-legged friend is already impacting my health and fitness in such positive ways. Now, just imagine how many steps I'll be racing through when we start going for proper daily walks on the beach...

Kit that helps me walk 10,000 steps a day

Looking for more original family content? Check out I tried the ‘romanticise your life’ social trend as a busy mum of three or have a read of Joe Wicks just dropped a parenting truth bomb about sibling rivalry and I feel so seen . We've also got 10 things I’ve learned about love after 25 years of marriage and Parenting tips: 18 things I know on my son's 18th birthday.

Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

As a parenting specialist for more than 15 years, Heidi has written for most national newspapers and for a wide range of consumer magazines, including Mother & Baby where she was the Shopping Editor for six years, looking after regular consumer features including buying guides and gift roundups.