Stepping up to a New Year Challenge: 10,000 Steps and Pedometers!

Stepping up to a New Year Challenge: 10,000 Steps and Pedometers!

 

wood-nature-person-walking

I often get the questions: How often, how hard and how long should I walk?

I used to give the answer: 30-minutes at a moderate pace, on most, if not all days of the week.

Because that’s the recommended physical activity guideline for adults. It’s at least double that for 5 to 18 year olds.

Now I tell people: Everyday. Throughout your day. At a pace that’s comfortable to you depending on what you are doing at the time.

For example:

  • When going for a walk; aim for a brisk 30 – 60-minute walk, one to two times a day.
  • When carrying a load; a stroll or comfortable pace to your destination.
  • When walking on a treadmill; try varying the speed (kilometres/miles per hour) and incline (precent gradient) so you walk at a moderate pace for multiple, short 5-15-minute sessions, or, longer sessions, with the treadmill positioned in front of a nice view or TV. In the case of walking and watching the tele, start when the entrance of a show comes on and walk until the final credits.

So what has changed?

Why am I saying things differently?

Well it has a lot to do with the sedentary lifestyle a lot of people live, 24 chronic diseases and illness associated with that, and how 10,000 steps a day can help to reverse much of the sickness and diseases – if only – we were diligent to do this, day in and day out, just like you would pound the pavement for a job, money or support.

Did you know that the health warning of the dangers of a sedentary life can also transfer to the giant spreading of the entrepreneur’s bottom?!

But that’s not for me to say that about you; I just know that it’s not going to happen to me.

Why?

Well when I started down the entrepreneurial road I had to make a conscious decision to avoid a chair sentence. I started to spend more time than ever parked in a chair. So I created my own standing desks and workstations, as well as having fun with challenging myself to walk 10,000 steps a day. This worked for me, as I’m a self-driven and self-motivated person. Making healthy lifestyle changes come easy – now. I realise that the way I work [upright and standing] is far from the status quo, hence my interest to write this series and to challenge and help you.

Read on to learn more and take the 30-Day StandUp Challenge for fun and accountability to get up and move more.

The Pedometer and 10,000 steps (Facts & Figures)

  • A pedometer is a simple tool that measures steps taken, distance travelled and the calories you burn.
  • For adults, 10,000 steps is used by researchers worldwide as a reasonable estimate of daily activity by healthy adults.
  • For young people aged 5–17, it is recognised that 10,000 steps per day is likely to be too low.
  • A more recent analysis of step counts collected in this research article suggest a single minimal daily target of 12,000 steps per day for both boys and girls best estimates a physical activity target of the recommended 60 minutes per day.

The proof is in the pudding

Just wear a pedometer for a day and you’ll see just how active you really are.

Your result might shock you.  

Such was the case of a client of mine, who, after a couple of days of pedometer wearing, was “shocked” and “embarrassed” to report 1,300 steps at 3pm!  Another one of my clients wears a Fitbit, which has a built in pedometer and sees it as a motivational gadget to beat his daily step count each day. I was thrilled to get a Fitbit for Christmas and pleasantly surprised to see that I reached over 20,000 steps on my first day of wearing it. But then again, I do spend the majority of my waking hours on my feet moving around.

Wearing a step counter or activity tracker for a day is the only way to know how you rank and be sure to check in with the pedometer steps classifications below.

Pedometer Steps Classifications

Sedentary: less than 5,000 steps per day
Low Active: .5,000-7,499 steps per day
Somewhat Active: 7,500-9,999 steps per day
Active: Greater than or equal to 10,000 steps per day
Highly Active: Greater than 12,500 steps per day

What if I cycle, swim or play contact sports?

That’s a great question. These are certain physical activities where a pedometer may not be worn, and removal of the pedometer for these activities could therefore result in an underestimate your daily step count.

A work-around for cycling you can try is attaching the pedometer on your shoe so your pedometer picks up your movement on your peddle downstroke.

If you’re smart you would have already worked out that the pedometer works by sensing one’s motion.  Now this does not mean you put it on our dog’s collar and have him do your steps for you! That was a neat little trick one of my clients tried once.  There’s a good chance that your dog is more active than you, except if you own a Chihuahua or Shih Tzu! I’d like you to prove me wrong :)

In the other two occasions, I would encourage you to record the reason and duration of your pedometer removal during the day so that you don’t get discouraged if your step count is lower than usual and you’ve actually done some of the physical activities or sports mentioned above.

For the Technologically Savvy: A Note About Smartphone Pedometer Apps

new study shows smartphone pedometer applications can accurately measure steps and may be more precise than some wearable devices.

Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, the first author of the study, cautioned that pedometer apps by themselves cannot make people healthier. “These devices alone are unlikely to be enough to help most people change their health behaviours,” he said. “Instead, they need to be paired with effective engagement strategies that help to build habits using effective feedback loops.”

In a viewpoint article, Dr Patel and some of the same colleagues, further discussed engagement strategies – “the combinations of individual encouragement, social competition and collaboration”, and suggested workplace wellness programs as one way of making good use of the apps.

According to the authors this is most effectively done when workers form teams “that provide peer support and promote a sense of accountability to use the device and stay engaged in the new behaviour.” Teams could receive rewards if everyone on the team met a particular goal; for example, 7000 steps per day.

So Why 10,000 Steps?

The recommended 10,000 steps a day originated in Japan in the early 1960s. Japanese researchers led by Dr Yoshiro Hatano determined the average person took 3,500 to 5,000 steps per day, and that if they were to increase their steps to 10,000 steps per day, the result would be healthier, thinner people!

How on earth am I going to reach this target?

It’s easy to increase your steps.  Just make yourself aware of opportunities available to you during your normal day.

Try:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift / escalator
  • Carrying the shopping in one bag at a time
  • Taking a 5 – 10-minute walk at lunchtime
  • Stepping out for 10 minutes with a friend or workmate
  • Walking and talking with a colleague instead of emailing
  • Parking the car further away from the entrance to your place of interest
  • Walking to the corner store for basics like milk and the paper
  • Getting your workplace on board with a step challenge. e.g., 10, 000 Steps Australiahave developed an interactive workplace challenge.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur like myself, get your friends or family on board or join my challenge!

Next up in the series I give ten reasons why you should walk 10,000 steps a day. Yes there’s more than just the prevention of giant bottom spreading!

Missed 10, 000 Steps: A Personal Story? Catch up on it here.

As you count down the end of 2015, what are you going to be doing to count up your steps in 2016? Leave a comment below.

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