#### Counting Steps for Exercise

How many of you have tried counting steps for exercise? The basic idea is to count your steps, using a pedometer, and reach a daily goal of 10,000 steps. All types of walking activities are included in your daily step count such as taking a fitness walk; running up and down the stairs in your home to do laundry; the steps you take straightening your home each day; the steps you take walking to and from work or errands. All of these add up to help reach a goal of 10,000 steps per day.

It is generally considered that 10,000 steps are equal to 5 miles. This concept was developed by the Japanese during a marketing campaign to sell pedometers and is endorsed by health authorities around the world. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps as an average guideline to improve your health and increase longevity.

Here are some tips on counting steps for exercise.

•A report from The Journal of the American Medical Association states that wearing a pedometer makes people more aware of their amount of activity and motivates them to increase it. Reviews from Stanford University show that people using pedometers to monitor their activity are more likely to walk about two thousand more steps per day. This can equal as much as a mile. Studies of this same group of people showed drops in body mass index and blood pressure.

•Establish a goal, whether it is to increase your daily step count by 500 steps, by 10%; or to reach a certain number of steps per day. Your original goal will depend on your current fitness level. Whatever your goal determines it before you start counting steps. Studies show that if you keep track of your daily steps you will be more likely to stick to your goal. Random activity will not give you the results you might expect.

•The Surgeon General recommends a total of 30 minutes of activity per day, at least five days a week. Walking 10,000 steps is comparable to these recommendations. However, everyone walks at a different pace and 10,000 steps may be more or less than 30 minutes for you. Keep track of your steps for a week and divide the total by seven. This gives you the average steps you walked per day and is considered your baseline.

•The more steps you walk the more calories you burn. The number of calories burned will be determined by several factors such as how much you weigh and how fast you walk. If you are walking to lose weight, then what you eat, and how much, is just as important as how many steps you take. More steps do not mean more food. To estimate calories burned use the average of 10,000 steps for 5 miles. A person weighing 150 lbs. burns around 100 calories per mile. So therefore 100 calories x 5 miles
equals 500 calories per day. Five hundred calories x 7 days results in 3500 calories burned per week.

•You don’t need to do all your steps at once. Break your walks up into 10, 20, or 30 minute chunks. The important thing is that no matter how many walks you take make them count. A leisurely walk around the block will add towards your daily step count goal; however, a brisk walk around the block will burn more calories.

•Invest in the best pedometer you can afford. Not all pedometers are created equal so check reviews before you buy. You can check your pedometer’s accuracy by walking 100 steps and see if your pedometer recorded 100 steps. Try increasing the distance and see if the pedometer keeps up with you.

What it boils down to is increasing activity. James Hill, PhD, and one of the authors of the book “The Step Diet” states: “We need to get people to be more active and by using the pedometer and making small dietary changes, we really can make a dent in the obesity of our nation.”

Live healthy, be happy!

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