A recent study in New Zealand showed that making this one little change–just the simple act of wearing a pedometer–almost doubled walking rates in the 300+ subjects they observed. All study subjects were encouraged to walk more, but they were then separated into two groups: half were given a pedometer, and half weren’t. Over the course of a year, the pedometer people boosted their average weekly walking time by almost twice as much as the non-pedometer people.
I like this a lot–because it’s cheap, easy, and pretty much mindless. And the more things you can automate in your life, the better. I think I’m going to start writing “prescriptions” for pedometers. And get one for myself, while I’m at it.
Walking is excellent exercise. It’s easy on your joints, it’s fun, and especially if you’re outdoors, it’s a great way to clear your head and soothe your soul. And it’s the perfect exercise to do in small time slots–which makes it easy to accumulate those activity minutes (more on why this particular strategy works, here.)
Now, if you’re counting steps, how many are you aiming for? Well, 10,000 steps per day seems to be the magic number. This figure can be traced back to Japanese walking clubs dating 30+ years ago, and recent studies have shown that it makes sense. Less than 5,000 steps per day is a marker for a “sedentary” lifestyle. (A person who is basically a couch potato and only makes their way around the house all day clocks about 3,000 steps daily). Between 5000-10,000 steps is considered “low-active” or “somewhat-active”. But people who are averaging 10,000 steps a day are maintaining an “active lifestyle”, and are thus healthier and less obese.
So…anyone tried a pedometer? What did you think?