Monday, February 22, 2010

Lose Weight, Get Fit And Increase Your Activity Level With A Pedometer

Just clip it to your belt or pants.

Try Wearing a Pedometer - It's a Great Motivator to Get Off the Couch!
If you read my January 3, 2010 post, "Get Healthy in 2010 - Three Things You Can Do Now", you may recall that #2 was to "Get Moving". The stats quoted from a recent study were so amazing they are worth repeating.
Exercise can:
- Lower the risk of stroke by 27%
- Reduce the incidence of diabetes by around 50%
- Reduce the incidence of high blood pressure by around 40%
- Reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50%
- Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%
- Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by approximately 40%
- Decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

The hope of avoiding these debilitating diseases should be motivation enough but I now have a new gadget to help motivate me even more! It's a pedometer and it really works!

What is a Pedometer?
A pedometer is a small electronic gadget that measures how many steps you take each day. I bought the Omron HJ-112 for around $25, but there are many others. See the “top 10 best pedometers”. Here are some of the things it can do: Once you calibrate the length of your step, it records how many steps you take, how many miles you walk each day and how many calories you burn. The Omron even differentiates between regular steps and “aerobic” steps (aerobic steps are those from walking a certain steady pace for over 10 minutes). It also notes how many minutes you walked aerobically. This model also stores 7 days worth of data and the real fancy ones can download your data to a computer for even more analysis. But the most important thing is for you to set a goal each day and for this little guy to tell you if you met it.

How Many Steps Should You Take?
Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke, a walking behavior researcher, classified pedometer-measured physical activity as follows:
- Under 5000 steps/day as a "sedentary lifestyle index"
- 5,000-7,499 steps/day might be considered "low active."
- 7,500-9,999 might be considered "somewhat active."
- 10,000 steps/day should be used to classify individuals as "active".
- Individuals taking more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as "highly active".

My FIrst Week
I wanted to walk around 10,000 steps per day but quickly realized that a goal like that would certainly take quite a bit of effort. I found myself walking to the grocery store instead of driving. One day I walked 40 minutes to the post office to mail a letter instead of leaving it in my mailbox for pick-up. I jumped on my elliptical trainer every night while watching the Olympics instead of sitting on the couch. I went to my Zumba dance class and racked up 6,000 steps in an hour. That little pedometer hooked to my belt truly motivated me. Why? Because I, like most people, like to get feedback. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to be more active” but it’s another thing to say, “I’m going to walk 10,000 steps a day and easily measure to see if I did it. For the amount of “push” it’s given me this week to get moving, it’s the best $25 I’ve ever spent!

How Did I Do?
In my first week of wearing a pedometer, I averaged 8,500 steps, or 3 miles per day. I also averaged 3,700 aerobic steps or 34 minutes of aerobic activity per day. I didn’t reach my 10,000 step per day goal but I am pretty pleased that I had over 30 minutes per day of aerobic activity. I’m also certain that if I weren’t wearing this pedometer, the numbers would have been much lower. I will keep my goal at 10,000 steps per day and hopefully work myself up to that level soon.
I highly recommend this little gadget, especially if you’re trying to increase your activity, lose a little weight and improve your health. Make sure you check with your doctor before you significantly increase your activity.

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