10,000 steps a day

It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that sitting is even worse for our health (and fitness) than we thought. Hopefully you are forging a habit of a daily hour devoted to exercise but even when we’ve checked off our hour we still face health risks if we are sedentary for the rest of the day (you know, the other 23 hours we’re not working out in the gym). Some recent research shows that when it comes to weight loss or weight management, it's not even necessarily the people who "exercise" the most who come out on top: it's the people who are simply more "active" that tend to be the leanest.

My oldest son who is active by nature shared something with me. He makes it a point to stand whenever possible. (So I was not surprised when he purchased a standing desk for himself. That’s right he does not sit down at work). Additionally he thinks it’s puzzling that while waiting to board a flight the entire waiting area is full of people sitting. They are about to get on a several hour flight where they will be strapped in and forced to sit and they are resting up for that? He prefers to walk around the waiting area.

No matter what your fitness level, setting a goal to move more can be a motivating way to improve your health. You may have heard recently that many people are setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps every day. Medical authorities around the world have agreed that 10,000 is a healthy number to aim for. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in America. The benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day are many:  lower BMI, reduced waist size, increased energy, and less risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease. 
10,000 steps daily is approximately 5 miles.  Unless you have a very active lifestyle or profession, you probably don’t reach 10,000 steps on a given day without putting some dedicated effort into your activity. I have found I need to walk my dog about an hour (around 3 miles) in addition to my regular daily activities to hit the 10,000 mark. And on days that I am more sedentary I may have to walk further. 
While I highly recommend the Nike fitbit and flex band for tracking your steps you can use any pedometer. So please buy or borrow one because our challenge this week is to walk 10,000 steps for at least 6 days this coming week. If you do this you will earn the 30 bonus points. You can do this along with your regular exercise routine or instead of it. But to earn the points it must be the full 10,000 steps. (Note if you have a special health limitation that does not allow you to walk please let me know and we will work out an alternative challenge)

Here are some ideas that might help. And yes if your pedometer will track bicycling (in or outside) or tread milling you can count it. (Ideas adapted from Spark People)

1.            Consider breaking your step goal into three smaller goals throughout the day: a morning walk, a midday walk, and an evening walk.
2.            Every Hour on the Hour. If you were to split up these steps during a normal workday (8-9 hours), that works out to just over 1,000 steps per hour. That means several half mile walks (less than 10 minutes of time), spread out across the day. It won't be realistic for everyone to do this at work, but it may be realistic for some people to take a few 10-minute breaks during the workday—then squeeze the remaining 10-minute walks in before or after work.  Set a timer on your phone or computer and walk just 5 minutes every hour of the day until bedtime. DONE!
3.            6 Legs in One. The easiest way for me to accumulate steps in a given day is to walk my dog. He's the best fitness partner around! We have a daily routine of walking either in the morning or evening (it’s already too hot in Central Florida to walk when the sun is shining) 

4.            Buddy Up. I don’t know about you but walking alone for long distances becomes really boring for me but I love walking with friends. If no one is available I often talk with a friend on the phone or listen to audible books while getting in my daily steps.
5.            Step It Up Inside. Indoor walking workout DVDs are extremely popular and allow you to get moving no matter what the weather. Some titles are specific walking distances like 3 to 5 miles. Recommended are Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds series as well as Jessica Smith's Motivating walking DVDs.
6.            Walk with a purpose. One reason I love my Nike flex bracelet is I get to compete with other friends that wear them to see who can walk the most steps in a week. One side benefit of this has been we are looking for opportunities to walk. One friend’s husband walked home from the car repair place last week. Another girlfriend walked to the bank, then walked to make a house payment then walked to the dry cleaners. Another friend walked the halls at church between meetings yesterday. And when I was shopping with a girlfriend today and I was done trying on clothes before she was rather than sink into the easy chair near the front of the store I walked in circles. Once you settle into the challenge of walking 10,000 steps in a day you will be surprised how creative you get (Yes that was me the other day walking in place while I blow dried my hair)
So get moving ladies. This week your challenge is to walk 10,000 steps for 6 days out of 7. (Hoorah you get a day of rest)

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