1. Your heart won't have to work so hard.
"Simply going from being sedentary to engaging in even modest levels of activity dramatically improves your health and begins decreasing your risk of heart disease," says Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery. Movement makes your muscles better able to pump blood throughout the body, so your heart rate comes down.
2. You'll slash your stroke risk.
Extra activity directly reduces your chances of having a stroke. It also helps keep your blood pressure in check—which further reduces your stroke risk. Double win!
3. Your cholesterol levels may improve.
Got high LDL, the "bad" kind of cholesterol? Taking an extra 1,000 steps a day may be enough to make a difference. "When you move more, you burn up cholesterol and other lipids in your bloodstream so they have less of a chance of invading and damaging your blood vessels," explains Olson.
4. You'll stress less.
5. Your bones will get stronger.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, any type of weight-bearing activity can strengthen your skeleton and fight osteoporosis. Why? Placing weight on your bones makes them work harder, explains Olson. That pressure stimulates cells called osteoblasts, which can turn into new brand-new bone cells.
6. You may lose weight.
OK, so you probably won't shed a ton quickly, but over time there's a payoff. Taking an extra 10,000 steps means you'll torch about 50 more calories a day, or 350 a week, says Nadya Swedan, MD, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. "In about 10 weeks, you'll be able to notice any pounds you've started to drop." (Walk off 22 pounds in just 8 weeks and get an MP3 player with Prevention's Walk Off Weight!)
To reap any—or all—of these benefits, you'll need to make extra activity a regular thing. "A thousand additional steps a day really add up, but consistency is key," says Pasternak. Some easy ways to make it a habit include snagging the furthest (rather than closest) parking spot to your office door, marching around while you're talking on the phone, and ditching your coffee pot so you have to walk to a local shop for your morning cup.