Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Power of the Pedometer

Any successful weight loss program has some physical activity component.  Exercise has many benefits including: helping burn calories, building muscle and reducing stress, to name a few.  From my experience, both personal and professional, exercise is one of the more difficult behavior changes to make.  For some reason it is a little easier to choose the salad or brown rice than it is to sweat and be active.

The key with any life-style change is to make it a part of your daily life.  If you like to play a sport, find a local gymnasium that might have an adult league you can join.  If you like to be outdoors, plan weekly hikes or walks.  The point is, think about your favorite activity and try to incorporate some exercise around it.

Maybe you're like me and you find that you like to set goals for yourself and like to set small challenges to motivate you.  That is where a simple tool like a pedometer can help.  A pedometer is a device you wear on your belt or waist and it counts your steps.  The goal is to try to walk 10,000 steps in one day.  How far is that you might ask?  That depends on your stride length but in general, 10,000 steps is usually 5 miles.

Do you have to walk 5 miles at one time?  No.  Getting 10,000 steps in a day requires you to be creative in how you spend your day.  Most people average 3,000-5,000 steps per day just in normal daily activities.  So let's assume you are on the low end of that range, you need to find another 7,000 steps to meet your goal.  Think about your day and when you can take a short walk.  Walking for 30 minutes at work might help you get 2,000 steps depending on your pace.  Go for a walk after dinner with your family instead of turning on the TV.

I am a firm believer in the power of the pedometer.  I got one from work and I wear it every day.  I look at it multiple times during my day to see how many steps I am at.  Do I get to 10,000 every day? No, but I do come close.  I love getting up from my desk, walking to the printer and knowing I just added another 125 steps to my total.  I know I'll get an additional 200 steps by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  It all adds up.  The research shows that a simple $10 pedometer can help you increase your physical activity level and therefore help you manage your weight.

If you challenge yourself you will find ways to get those extra steps in your day.  Challenge yourself to be more active, especially if you want to help manage your weight.

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