The most important aspect of healthy exercise is movement. High levels of movement every day directly correlates with overall health and longevity. It’s very easy to “think” you are on your feet and moving a lot. However, if you want to be certain that you are getting a healthy dose of movement every day, the easiest and fastest way is by buying and using a pedometer.
A pedometer measures the “steps” you take using several different methods. The type of method used for measurement usually affects the price of the pedometer. Higher priced pedometers also have features like distance walked based on the length of your stride, calories burned, a timer, clock, stopwatch and speed estimation. Unless you like to look at or use that type of data, these extra features are not something you are going to need and you can just look for the most solidly built pedometer for the lowest price.
The current recommendation for daily steps for health is a goal of 10,000 steps per day. This may not seem like much until you actually start wearing a pedometer and see that you probably don’t come close to those numbers most days. Most Americans on average take about 5000 - 7000 steps per day and if you work at a computer or a sedentary job, you probably don’t even come close to those numbers.
The power of pedometers comes into play when they function as a reward system for making the effort to take those extra steps to reach your 10,000 steps a day goal. With a pedometer clipped on your belt, it reminds you that you really don’t need to find the closest parking place at the store. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator because your pedometer is keeping track for you. If you don’t put off taking the dog for a walk today, your pedometer will reward you with a bigger number at the end of the day.
You can also create a walking plan for yourself where you set goals and reward yourself when you meet them. Doctors estimate you can gain health benefits from adding just 2000 steps more per day to whatever your average daily activities generate. If you are looking to lose weight, a daily walk of approximately 4000 steps can accelerate weight loss.
Let’s say you measure your steps for a week and find that your daily steps without trying to add in extra exercise is about 5000 steps. You’d like to lose a little weight but you are not ready to put in a lot of effort. A good goal would be 8,000 steps per day. To keep your activity consistent, you set a second goal of 10 straight days over 8,000 will earn you a nice massage or some other item you’ve been thinking about buying. Do you see how this could be deeply motivating? Without a pedometer, you could tell yourself you are moving more but with a pedometer, you know that you are hitting your goals.
A pedometer is one of the best ways to quantify exactly how much movement you are getting each day and the perfect tool to keep you honest and motivated about what you are really accomplishing. If you don't have one now, buy one and start measuring your moves tomorrow.