Walk it Off in 2012

posted on January 17, 2012

Happy New Year!  As we move into a new year many of us contemplate the most common, most nagging, New Year’s resolution – getting fit (or losing weight or feeling more comfortable in our skin!).  Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the “no pain, no gain” strategy may not be the best approach to getting back in shape.  If exercise did not make it into your daily routine in 2011, a great place to start is with something we could all do a little more of – walking! 

Create Goals with a Pedometer

Most people think that exercise has to be a certain amount of time devoted to physical activity only, but can I suggest meeting your walking goals throughout the day? Investing in a pedometer (which, these days, does not require more than a few dollars) can help you track your daily steps and give you immediate feedback on your accomplishments. If you haven’t come across one before, it is a small device, like a watch that sits on your hip. Pedometers provide ongoing data to help you plan out the rest of your day...How can you fit walking in your day make your step goals?  Whether it be running to meetings or walking to the grocery store, there are many opportunities to take more steps! A recent review1 of 26 studies indicated that those who used a pedometer had higher activity level, decreasing body mass index and lower blood pressure.

So, the question becomes, how many steps are enough? To determine your individual goal, start by logging how many steps you get in a regular day and then add 2000-3000 steps for your daily target.  This adds about an extra 30 minutes of walking a day or just 10 minutes of jogging.  10,000 steps is a common goal and a great one to work towards but studies show as little as 6000 steps per day is associated with decreased mortality. 

To help with motivation, start a pedometer challenge with colleagues, family or friends.  It is a great way to promote health and gain walking buddies!

So start your engines and walk it off!

1Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 21, 2007.