Why get a pedometer?

Why get a pedometer?

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A pedometer counts the number of steps you take. Why bother getting one? You have probably heard of people writing down everything they eat to help cut back on calories, or using “points” for the same purpose. But how about tracking activity?

Well, why not? As it turns out, the struggle many of us have maintaining a healthy weight has probably as much to do with how inactive we have become as with all the food that is around. Think of it. When we were living in caves all food had to be chased down or gathered, and to survive we had to run away from big animals. And even a 100 years ago working in a factory 12 hours a day, or in a field before tractors and combine harvesters and automatic milking machines – well you can see how not burning up very many calories now that we have labor saving devices and drive through restaurants is part of the problem. And how about the fact that most of us spend most of our working days in front of a computer screen?

So if you want to control your weight, it is just as important to track your activity as the food you eat. There are many good pedometers on the market and the one shown here is just an example.

How many steps are enough? The number often talked about is 10,000 steps per day, however the real answer is the more the better.

But let’s put that in perspective. One of our doctors, walking between rooms and back and forth to the hospital once a day manages about 6,000 steps a day, while we have some retired patients who walk less than 3,000 steps. A farmer, on the other hand, even using a tractor, might get to 15,000 or even more than 20,000 steps per day.

So get your pedometer, wear it three – four days and see what is normal for you. And then try to adapt what you do each day to increase the steps, by pacing while you are on the phone, parking further away, etc

How does “exercise” fit in? You have probably heard that we should all exercise 30 minutes three times per week, and so we should. “Exercise” – increasing the heart rate – is good for the heart and mind, but exercising 90 minutes a week and sitting the rest of the time is not enough for weight or diabetes management. Of course you cannot wear a pedometer swimming, and it does not register well on most exercise equipment. One way to approach this is to track and try to maximize your activity during each day and keep exercise as an extra. But if you want to keep track of your exercise as well, a rule of thumb is that low-intensity aerobic activity = 4,000 steps per hour; middle-intensity exercise = 7,000 steps per hour; and high-intensity exercise = 10,000 steps per hour.

You will also find useful information at http://aom.americaonthemove.org and www.shapeup.org.