Walking is one of the best activities you can do, not just for your overall health but also for weight loss. For some of us, though, walking doesn’t provide the same sense of accomplishment as, say, doing 20 sit-ups or riding 2.5 miles on a stationary bike. This is especially true of numbers-crunchers and spreadsheet-creators.
Luckily, there is an easy solution in the form of a pedometer. As the name implies, a pedometer is a device that tracks the number of steps you take. Studies indicates that simply using a pedometer motivates you to walk more – and more often throughout the day. In fact, researchers at the University of Indiana found that the 26 people who participated in their simple pedometer program lost an average of 2.5 pounds.
Most pedometers are smaller than a beeper and are either clipped to the belt or carried in a pocket or bag. Prices range from $20 on up, depending on the features you want. Most models are more accurate the faster you walk, so if you are a slow walker make sure to buy one that is designed for accuracy even at a slow pace. If you have an iPhone or other type of smartphone, you can download a pedometer app.
Once you get your pedometer, you will need to calibrate it to the length of your step so it can also keep track of how many miles you are walking. Follow the directions for set-up.
Next, you’ll want to determine a baseline, which is the average number of steps you currently take in a day. Write down the number of steps the pedometer records each day for three days, total them up, and divide by three. The result is your current daily number of steps, or baseline.
Once your baseline is established, set a short-term goal. For instance, if you currently walk 2,000 steps a day, set a short-term goal of adding 500 or 1,000 steps per day the next week. You can accomplish this by parking farther away at the office or grocery store, talking to co-workers in person instead of calling, or scheduling short walks throughout the day.
Of course, you don’t need a pedometer to start walking more, but a pedometer helps you track your progress and makes it easier to know if you are meeting your goals.
In addition to setting short-term goals, you should set long-term ones. A step goal of 10,000 (about 5 miles) several times a week is good. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests healthy adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week.
The main thing – for weight loss and overall health – is to walk more each week. Tracking your steps with a pedometer is an easy way to do just that.