Tip of the Week
For many people, a new year means new health and fitness goals.
While our fitness goals often start strong, many people find that keeping up with an exercise routine becomes a challenge. It gets harder and harder to get to the gym on time for our favorite fitness class, we begin to make up excuses and we begin feeling guilty…and finally we give up!
Suddenly, we begin believing in all of those myths about fitness and exercising, such as: If you are not going to work out hard and regularly, then exercise is a waste of your time…home-workouts are all right, but going to a gym is the best way to get and stay fit…and…overweight people are unlikely to benefit from exercise… This kind of thinking keeps a lot of people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program.
In truth, plenty of scientific research actually shows that, any kind, and any amount of exercise is better than none at all. Also, overweight individuals who engage in consistent, even low-impact, fitness activities have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of their body weight. Finally, according to research, in spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs, celebrity endorsements, and upscale facilities with all sorts of bells and whistles, for many individuals it is easier to stick to a home-based fitness program.
Even better, regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, while it has also shown to be a powerful tool in both weight reduction and weight management. We are not just talking about power-walking in the park with weights in your hands, track shoes and a slick outfit…we are simply talking about making a conscious effort to use your legs and feet to move around all day long while you go about your activities of daily living.
According to an article published on ScienceDaily, a joint study based on findings from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, and Sweden has outlined useful preliminary guidelines for how many steps per day women should accumulate for both weight control and overall improved health.
The table below shows the steps-per-day recommendations for health benefits and weight control for women ages 18-60+ based on such findings:
- Age: 18-40 12 000 steps per day
- Age: 40-50 11 000 steps per day
- Age: 50-60 10 000 steps per day
- Age: 60 + 8 000 steps per day
While a sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day, there are many ways to increase your daily steps to reach the number-of-steps goal for each day. To simplify, it takes just a little over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles.
A reasonable goal for many is to increase the average daily steps, for each week, by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day. At that point, you can set new goals for further increasing the number of your daily steps. For example, if you currently average 3000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3500 each day. Your week 2 goal is 4000 each day. Continue to increase each week and you should be averaging 10,000 steps by the end of 14 weeks.
Here, we are providing you with a list of ideas, but you should use your imagination and come up with your own personal list:
- Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend
- Walk the dog
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park farther from the store
- Better yet, walk to the store
- Get up to change the channel
- Window shop
- Plan a walking meeting
- Create a walking club with your friends and neighbors
- Walk for a cause
- Walk over to visit a neighbor
- Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding
An easy way to track your steps each day is to wear a pedometer.
Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bedtime. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised by how many (or how few) steps you get in each day.
Continue to track your daily steps and mileage, keep notes on how you feel, how your body is improving, or other changes you are making to improve your health…and be proud of your accomplishments, one step at a time.