Walk your way to fitness

Smaller than a mobile phone, a pedometer is a simple device that can change your life. Simply attach it to your belt or waistband or use the app version, and it will do the rest. Digital pedometers record not only steps taken, but convert those steps to miles. Some even include a stopwatch and an estimate of your caloric expenditure.

Pedometers work really well for those who don't have the time to invest in a formal cardiovascular exercise programme. Experts approximate about 10,000 steps as the equivalent of the recommendation of 30 minutes of daily exercise. Remember that this is an eventual target.

Benefits of Walking

Number of Steps
8K to 10K = Improve health and prevent disease
12K to 15K = Achieve sustained weight loss
3K fast pace = Improve aerobic fitness

Two thousand steps add up to approximately one mile. Throughout the course of one full day most healthy adults cover about two miles, or four thousand steps. For walking to function effectively as cardiovascular exercise you’ll have to generate an extra three or four thousand steps per day.

When it comes to adding steps, remember that a little bit here and there can have a huge impact on results. Park at the far end of the car park, take the stairs, choose the scenic versus the fastest route, walk your children to school, leave the car at home whenever possible.

If you are forced to sit at a desk all day, or are otherwise sedentary, set short term goals that are somewhat easier to reach. But be sure to add a few steps whenever possible. Log your steps nightly and attempt to make gradual increases.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

For two full weeks, just fix the pedometer to your waistband and note your daily steps, while keeping as close as possible to your normal daily routine (NDR). Be sure to follow the rules on pedometer protocol. Keep an exercise log next to your bed and enter your steps travelled at the end of every day. Upon conclusion of the two-week period, take a look at how many steps you are taking each day while performing your NDR.

Next, take the greatest number of steps walked on any given day, or the average number of steps for the two-week period plus 500, and use that number of steps as your initial daily step goal (DSG). Feel free to work more conservatively and select a lower number of steps as you try to determine your best possible DSG. Strive to reach your goal every day for the next two weeks. Before bedtime each night, be sure to log in the number of steps you actually took then reset your pedometer for the next day.

At the end of the second two-week period, review your logbook and decide if you are ready to add another 500 steps to your DSG. For example, if your DSG was originally 3,000 steps, your new goal would be 3,500. For more information please review the section below on Pedometer Protocol.

Progress until you reach 10,000 steps per day, more if your personal goals dictate (see comparison chart). It takes about six months to crystallize a new behaviour. Sticking with a programme for six months dramatically increases your likelihood of lifetime compliance. If you skip a few days due to illness, work or other obligations, get back into the groove as soon as possible. The more days you miss, the more likely you are to abandon your program altogether.

Pedometer Protocol

- Firmly clip your new pedometer to your belt or waistband or place your smart phone in your hip pocket. It needs to be positioned above your hipbone and directly in line with the trouser crease. Attach it firmly, and be sure the device is level for accurate recording. Another point worth noting; be careful to not drop your new toy down the toilet.

- Pedometers work best when walking on regular terrain. They lose some accuracy with most gym equipment (like elliptical or step machines), remain reasonably accurate on a treadmill, and are completely useless on a bicycle.

- To avoid overuse injuries, work up to your goals slowly. If you have any concerns about joint health (back, ankles, knees or hips), discuss your exercise plans with a doctor. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to always discuss a new exercise programme with your GP.

- You’ll need a good pair of trainers or walking shoes that provide adequate comfort and support, but at the rate of 10,000 steps per day, don’t expect more than six months from even the most expensive brands. Taking 8,000 daily steps with improper or worn out footwear could do more harm than good, and not only damage your feet, but create structural imbalances that show up as overuse injuries. If you experience pain or discomfort anywhere on your body, first check your footwear.

- If any incurred pain persists more than two or three days or is severe (even briefly), check with your GP before proceeding. Also, if you experience any pain or tightness in the chest, or have difficulty breathing while exercising, STOP what you're doing and seek immediate medical attention. Call 999 if necessary. Getting a physical prior to exercise, and progressing gradually is the safe way to go.

Also remember walking limitations. A walking programme addresses cardiovascular fitness and weight loss, but does little to improve muscle tone and functional strength. To experience full body health and fitness, a personalised resistance and flexibility programme are absolutely necessary.

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.