The expression 'one step at a time' can be applied to a lot of different things, including getting healthier. Whether you want to tone up, lose weight or just improve your fitness in general, you've probably been told to take things one step at a time.

The idea is that small changes can all add up to big differences, but is this really case? After all, wouldn't it be better to just go big or go home as this will help you achieve your goals faster?

While you may not believe it, small changes really do add up over time, meaning that it is worth taking things slowly and fully managing what you're changing in order to reach your targets. If you don't believe us, read on to see what big differences your little changes can make.

Step by step is easier to manage

It doesn't matter if you're changing the way you eat or trying to exercise more, changing this bit by bit is the best way to do it. Subtle changes, such as eating more vegetables or walking more, help to provide a foundation for other lifestyle alterations you'll make.

It is much easier to get to the gym every day if you start off by walking more or swimming regularly, as these low-impact exercises help to build up strength and endurance, as well as get you into a routine. They will help make larger changes easier to manage, leading to a better chance of success in the long-run.

Similarly, making small changes with food will mean you have a better chance of sticking to a diet rather than suddenly deciding to cut everything out all at once.

You'll find it less stressful

Changing anything to do with your health can be stressful, especially if you try to do too much at once. You may be able to stick to a big change at the start – such as hitting the gym on a daily basis – but this can soon take its toll and leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

The more stressed you become, the greater chance there is of you cheating on your diet or starting to skip workouts more often, which can see you backslide quite quickly. Instead, the ease with which you can fit small changes into your routine will help to reduce the chances that you get stressed out. 

Not only will this increase your chances of success, it also means that you'll have fewer issues when it comes to making another small change. This means you're able to build on your achievements and will soon meet your goals.

There is less impact on your lifestyle

One of the major problems with big changes is that you often end up needing to alter your daily routine or larger parts of your lifestyle in order to accommodate them. This can be incredibly difficult to do and mean that it is harder to keep up with them, as other things will get in the way. 

Again, this increases your chances of not achieving what you set out to, which can ultimately see you give up. However, taking things one step at a time means that small changes can be fit around your daily schedule so you aren't having to change everything to accommodate them. 

Maintaining your lifestyle and routine – such as still going out with friends and not getting home from work ridiculously late – will ensure you see results but still get to do the things you love. While you may sacrifice time watching TV for lifting weights or swap a bar of chocolate for a piece of fruit, these are easy to manage.

It all adds up

Yes, simply walking more or eating extra vegetables may not seem like it will do you as much as good as spending hours at the gym each day or cutting out all carbohydrates and sugar, but the differences all add up. 

Huge changes like a full diet overhaul aren't sustainable so you'll likely burn out and go back to your old ways or at least cheat a lot more as you're depriving yourself of things you love. In comparison eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking more water will give you more energy, leave you feeling fuller for longer and help you cut down on foods that don't do you any good. This will see you lose weight in a safe and manageable way, meaning you're more likely to maintain your weight loss.

Similarly, those few extra steps each day help you burn more calories, improve your endurance and benefit your health. You'll find you can walk further and further each day, building on your success. It will also allow you to start exercising in other ways as you go on without causing you pain or discomfort. 

Every little change you make adds up to a big difference that is easier to stick with in the long-run. Large changes may show you more short-term wins, but if you're in it for the long haul, it's best to remember that slow and steady wins the race.