Recently I entered a fitness challenge with my coworkers to walk the highest amount of steps per day. Our team members were given pedometers to wear during an 8-week period in which steps were to be counted. The baseline for fitness and health is 10,000 steps per day or approximately 5 miles (8K). Since most people work in sedentary desk jobs how feasible is it to log at least 10,000 steps per day or more without going to too much effort? In order to win the fitness challenge we would have to go the extra mile to win.
Lets take a look at the facts. Our hunter gatherer ancestors walked approximately 20 miles (33K), yes 20 miles (33K), foraging for food and performing basic survival techniques every day. They were a strong, hearty and muscular people with fitness levels modern Olympians struggle to attain. With the birth of modern technology and the conveniences of today it has become a challenge to log a quarter of what our genes were designed for us to do. How do we overcome this hurtle within the constraints of time? Let’s use technology to our advantage. Grab a pedometer and let’s go!
Why is it important to walk approximately 5 miles (8K) per day to maintain fitness and where did this arbitrary number come from? 10,000 steps per day is equivalent to approximately 30 minutes of aerobic activity, recommended by most physicians for individuals to maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure. You don’t have to workout for 30 minutes per day to attain a decent level of fitness if you are making it your personal goal to log at least 10,000 steps per day. Steps can accumulate throughout the day by doing the following : walking over to a coworker rather than sending an e-mail, printing something from a printer that is further away, making sure to get up and walk at least once per hour, walking to the kitchen to refill your water, parking further from your usual spot, getting off one or two stations earlier if you take public transit, cleaning your house, taking a Zumba class or even window shopping! Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or regimented. As long as you make sure to keep a steady stride where you get your heart rate up you can be creative about it.
If you have the right pedometer then you are set to go. Most decent pedometers will cost approximately $20-50. I use the SW200. It works quite well as I have tested my steps and stride length and it is pretty much on point. The SW200 is available on Amazon.com.
Pedometers measure the amount of steps you take by recording the movement of your hip bones. That is why it is important to wear a pedometer near your waist to record the most accurate amount of steps. Be sure to test your stride length to ensure your steps are recorded correctly. People with longer legs will have longer stride lengths. Pedometers can also be a huge motivation for individuals. Studies have shown that individuals using a pedometer take an average of 2,500 more steps per day than their non pedometer wearing counterparts.
Here’s a chart of the amount of steps per day that the average people take and what it means for their fitness levels. Check out this source for more information.
Steps Per Day Activity Level
5,000 – 7,499 low active
7,500 – 9,999 somewhat active
>12,500 highly active
Instead of fretting over whether you are taking the right amount of steps I recommend wearing a pedometer to see for yourself. Not only will it give you a baseline for your regular activity level but it will also motivate you to walk that extra mile. Who knows? It may even save your life!
The Nutritiongal – AADP Certified Health Coach
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