Walking for HealthIn our current fast paced world, we still can’t find enough time to do that one thing that we need: mild to moderate exercise repeated often. For the majority of Americans we do not need military-like fitness goals, we just need to do something actively and do it often.
Examples of lifestyle changes are common, well known and yet still underutilized, such as park the car in the last row at the mall instead of the closest row, stop the elevator one floor early and walk the stairs to your floor and walk yourself (or your dog) for that 15-30 minutes every night after dinner.
For many of us, we have grown accustomed to measuring, assessing and defining our lives and for this crowd using a pedometer is perfect. A pedometer is a device that senses your movements to tally up the number of steps you take. It can be worn, clipped, tucked or carried. Pedometers can be simple (clip it on your belt and start walking) or advanced (determine your stride length, weight, pulsating rhythm as you walk, calories burned and can be downloaded onto your computer). Choose a pedometer that has a display you can easily read in different lights, can be worn comfortably and has the features you want.
Prices range from $10 to over $100. If you are new to the walking idea and the keeping track of your “motion minutes”, start simple and move up when needed. Once you are ready to get started, try wearing it around your normal day for about 2-4 days just to see how many steps you take in a typical day. You can now begin to add steps by scheduling that 10, 20,30 minute walk and add them onto your total. If you want to measure distance instead of steps, find that local track or measured distance by car, walk the ¼ mile and see how many steps or strides it took you, multiply by 4 and there you have your mile number. Remember this is an estimate, but after all, we are in this to be in motion not measure in exact feet or yards!
According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic, you should
- Set long-term step goals. Think about your overall fitness and activity goals. Your short-term goals are the building blocks to these long-term goals. A long-term goal may be walking 10,000 steps a day, or about five miles (eight kilometers), several times a week as part of your new daily routine. You may also want to set a goal of walking faster as your fitness level improves. Keep in mind that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that, in general, healthy adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Track your progress. To see how you're doing, monitor your progress over time. Your pedometer may or may not have a memory function to track your steps on a weekly or monthly basis. You can choose to use that feature or record your steps in a log of your own making. Or upload the information digitally to your computer or mobile device. Tracking your progress can help you see whether you're meeting your goals and when it may be time to set fresh goals.
- Check with your physician before beginning, especially if you have been sedentary for a while, have any orthopedic problems or have any medical issues that are being monitored.