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Why use a Step Tracker & Strategies to Move More

My training clients will tell you that I am a big supporter of step tracking devices as I firmly believe they are a great reminder to move MORE throughout the day. Let me share a little information with you that may or may not be surprising…. but either way, might inspire you to get stepping.

The Mayo Clinic reports a study that compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with another group of adults who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.
  • Nearly 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

Further Mayo studies show the following…. You may want to sit down for this news, or on second thought, don’t. Any extended sitting (TV watching, computer work, driving) can be harmful. What may surprise you is spending a few hours a week at the gym or other moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to offset the risk. Harvard University reports studies documenting higher rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and an increased risk of developing dementia in very sedentary people.

Now I’m certainly not trying to discourage you from exercising as you might have thought after reading the above, “What is the point of exercising then??” The point I am trying to make is, we need to make lifestyle changes that include moving MORE each and every day. We simply need to do this for our health. Clearly there is a reason why more and more we are hearing that “Sitting is the new smoking.”Obviously, we know that moving in general burns more calories than sitting, and burning more calories can lead to weight loss and increased energy. Did you know that the muscle activity needed for standing and movement triggers important processes related to the breakdown of sugars and fats in your body? When you are sitting, these processes stall, and when you resume moving, you kick the processes back into action.

Ok, so let’s say you have decided to pull the trigger and get your own step tracker…or, maybe you already have one, you have dusted it off and are ready to start stepping. Well Bravo! what is your daily step goal? Well first thing you are going to want to do is figure out how many steps you are currently taking now. Fitbit recommends wearing your tracker daily for the course of a week to see what your daily average step total is…this is your baseline. The Mayo Clinic recommends adding 1000 daily steps each week when trying to set a new step goal. Fitbit starts everyone off with a10,000-step goal and that’s because 10,000 steps adds up to about 5 miles per day which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise satisfying the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Now many people when they hear this think, “How am I going to find time to do 5 miles per day?? That’s a lot of miles! How long is that going to take me?” Here’s the thing, we need to change our mindset in regards to this. We need to not look at a 10,000-step goal as this extra tough thing we need to complete at the end of our long day. We need to look at getting in these steps throughout the day.Now here are some strategies and general ideas for getting those daily steps in and hitting your goal every day:

  • Stand and walk around a bit when talking on the phone or during a snack break instead of sitting.
  • Walk laps with friends or colleagues rather than sitting at a coffee shop or a conference room for social time or meetings.
  • If you have kids that are involved in sports, instead of sitting in the bleachers watching practice or games, make it a point to do a few laps around the field or gymnasium (while still watching your kids of course).
  • If you work full time and/or have a sedentary, desk job, make sure you are moving on your lunch hour. Get outside and go for a walk OR walk around inside your office if the weather is not ideal. When you make trips to the restroom, opt for the restroom that is further away from your desk or sneak in a few extra steps when you do restroom trips.
  • Wake up in the morning 15 minutes early (that’s not too hard), throw on something warm and go outside for a walk OR if the weather is not cooperating, walk around inside your home.
  • When running errands, park your car a little further away in the parking lot to get some extra steps in.
  • Find pockets of 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day to get up and move. If you do this a few times per day, you will be amazed at how quickly your step total rises.

Bottom line friends, I urge you to make it a point to take movement breaks every 30 minutes. No matter how much we exercise, sitting for excessive long periods of time greatly increases our health risks. The impact of movement…even leisurely movement…can be profound. A study out of California State University showed that mood lifted in correlation with increased numbers of daily steps. Now, get up and get moving!!!!

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