Our busy lives sometimes leave us with little time to exercise. Many of us have sedentary jobs, and combined with constant snacking and unhealthy eating is a disaster to our health.
The lack of sufficient exercise is linked to the development of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and even some forms of cancer such as colon and prostate cancer.
Enter the pedometer – a tiny device that is totally unassuming but can make a huge change to your life and lifestyle. Numerous studies have shown it can have a positive effect on health and well being.
Let’s take a look at how.
The advantages of walking
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week to maintain body weight and overall health. Walking regularly and at a brisk pace counts as moderate intensity exercise. At HeartSense, we feel that at least 45 minutes a day of exercise (even more if you can!) is better suited for the Indian population, taking into account their lifestyles and dietary choices.
The average Indian likely walks no more than 2000 to 3000 steps per day, which amounts to around 15 – 20 minutes of exercise in total. Research has suggested that achieving a ‘10,000 steps per day’ goal is the best way to reach a desirable level of exercise. 10,000 steps comes close to around 8km for adults, and can burn up to 400 calories.
While it might seem like a large number, achieving 10,000 steps a day is not hard; it just requires a little determination and will power to exercise on a regular basis. Walking this distance has a number of benefits on health –
- Improves the strength of your heart and reduces heart attacks
- Increases circulation of blood to all the vital organs
- Improves blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels
- Helps maintain a healthy body weight
- Can strengthen the bones and reduce osteoporosis
- Can prevent memory loss and dementia
- Improves mood, and can help tackle depression
- Increases energy levels, allowing you to be more active during waking hours
- Walking out in the warm sunlight can increase the production of vitamin D levels, which can improve bone and cartilage health
Its such a simple activity – you have no excuse to say you can’t do it! Just place one foot in front of the other……
What Is A Pedometer?
A pedometer is a device that measures the number of steps taken when walking, running etc. Without going into too much detail, pedometers are able to pick up each step that you take through an inbuilt lever mechanism that closes a circuit with each movement. If you are technically minded, then check out this cool review on how pedometers work.
The pedometer was originally created by Leonardo da Vinci, and was a gear-driven device that consisted of a pendulum arm moving back and forth when walking. The concept was brought to the United States by US President Thomas Jefferson, who used it enthusiastically! It came into being in Japan around 30 years ago, and was called the ‘manpo-meter’ (in Japanese, manpo means 10,000 steps). Initial models had their faults, but over time they improved on the designs and now they are very accurate.
The main advantage of pedometers are they are completely inconspicuous. They are available as watches, apps on your phone or little clip on devices that you attach to your trousers or dress. Some companies have even developed shoe mounted pedometers!
The bigger advantage is the impact it can have on your fitness. Read on to learn more on this.
Why use a pedometer
Right, now that you have decided that walking regularly can change your life, take it seriously and get yourself a pedometer.
Its ultimately about the steps. If you cross 10,000 a day, then you are doing well.
Why 10,000 a day you ask? Well, having a goal can be a powerful driving force to exercise. The goal is achievable by the average person and is associated with positive health benefits.
Our daily activities cover only a third to a half of this number, so that deficit must be made up. Remember, ‘step counting’ is just an easy way to ensure you are burning the required calories to get rid of excessive fat in your body.
But, when it comes to calories burnt, it is not just the steps that matters. The height and weight of the person matter as well. In addition, the stride length (distance between the feet with each step) matter as well, along with whether one is on a flat surface or incline.
The pedometer can create an obsession within you – one that is actually a healthy one. Studies have shown that people who wear a pedometer try harder to walk more to meet the desired number of steps a day. In fact, an average of 2491 additional steps are taken just by wearing this scrawny little device!
Furthermore, clinical studies have shown that wearing a pedometer increases the average daily physical activity by 27%! (Bravata, 2007). The body mass index can reduce significantly as well.
Bear in mind that walking this much may not be for everyone, so make sure you get the all clear from your doctor before you make a start (because you may find it hard to stop once you do!).
‘The talk test’
Ever heard of the talk test?
This is a simple test that helps you assess if you are walking at the right pace or whether you need to change it.
If you are able to speak in full sentences and can carry a conversation when you are walking, then you are probably walking at the right pace. If you cannot, then its time to slow down.
As time passes and with regular exercise, your lung capacity improves along with your stamina, and you will be able to exercise more and hold a conversation at a higher exercise stress level.
Choosing your pedometer
There are many pedometers on the market, so which one do you choose?
Look for one which does a little more than just count your steps. After all, its better to get your money’s worth when investing in your health, right?
Here are a couple that we recommend.
This simple, compact pedometer uses 3D sensor technology, tracking the total number of steps and calories burned. It also has a 7 day memory so you can look back and see how well you have been doing with your steps. Sufficient for those looking to make a start.
A highly rated pedometer. However, customers are not too keen on the design and the quality. It can count steps, distance covered, calories burnt and speed. In addition, it can give you an estimate of what percentage of your goal you successfully completed.
There are many others available on the market, and the reviews are variable. These above are the best we could find.
However, if you have a little extra cash lying around, or wish to get yourself some serious exercise gear, then check out this selection on Amazon.
Walking regularly has been scientifically proven to help keep weight down and the heart strong. Walking 10,000 steps a day can help you reach that ultimate goal. Using a pedometer can give you a good heart and a good life!