Over the past few months, I’ve noticed more and more adults and their children sporting fitness trackers. Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes and their main purpose it to record your activity. Activity is recorded mainly through how many steps you take throughout the day. Most devices that I have seen recommend 10,000 steps per day as the recommended activity level for a healthier you. But does 10,000 steps make you a more fit individual? Don’t get me wrong, going from the couch or office chair to a more active lifestyle will create improvements in your life. I’m just curious if walking 10,000 steps a day increases your overall fitness.
The following article may shed some light on this question.
Ellen Williams was a skeptic of the 10,000 step phenomena until she had a life-changing event that made her take a deeper look inside this theory.
See the article below and be sure to pass this along to all of your friends and family that are into the fitness tracking frenzy.
By Ellen Williams, M.D.
When I was still viewing middle age as something on the horizon, I looked down on people who thought walking was “exercise” with 100% Grade A disdain. There’s no way you could really walk yourself fit. Right?
But my knee and the pop heard ’round the block changed all that.
Something in my knee gave out–while walking, I might add– and intractable pain ensued, which led to arthroscopic surgery being scheduled. Not to brag, but when I woke up from anesthesia my surgeon ever so gently told me that I have the knee of a seventy-year-old woman. Why yes, I was upset.
During my seven week recovery period, Booty and Chair really became an item. They had flirted on and off leading up to the surgery, but the bond was cemented when Crutches formally introduced them.
Should I have realized that Booty and Chair were no good for each other? That they were on a collision course headed for mom jeans and muffin tops? Sure, in normal times, but I was pouting about how awful it was that I could no longer run.
So what did my attitude get me? Fat. It got me fat. By the end of the year, I was fifteen pounds heavier than I had ever been when I was pregnant.
Something had to change and that something was getting a Fitbit Zip, joining a fitness support group, and logging back into My Fitness Pal to track my calories.
So did I jump on my treadmill to rectify the situation? No! I turned to the internet to see if this whole 10000 step thing was bogus. And the answer was a retroactive, “it’s legit!”
While the 10000 step concept was originally thrown out there in the 1960s by a Japanese company to sell pedometers (Aha! I knew it was a lie!), American scientists have since performed the research and determined that 10000 steps per day is a pretty good indicator of an active lifestyle. (Science to the rescue!)
Activity Level Defined by Steps per Day
Ten thousand steps is a great number because unless you have a very active job like nursing or working in a warehouse, you need about 30 minutes of brisk walking in addition to your normal life steps to reach 10000.
This in turn correlates with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for overall cardiovascular health:
At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150
At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
So to recap, walking is good enough and humans are lazy liars who are fantastic at deluding themselves about how active they are. Or at least I am. I don’t know if you were playing along at home, but I was only hitting 3000 steps before my fitness revelation. I WAS A SEDENTARY SLOTH! While sloths are adorable, carrying thirty extra pounds is not. I needed to change.
My Three Point Fitness Plan:
If you are gaining weight, the truth is you are eating too much and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to keep a food diary. I logged into My Fitness Pal (MFP) app for the first time since 2009 to track my food. It has improved so much! You can easily find calorie counts for Weight Watcher and Skinnytaste recipes and you can scan the barcode of packaged foods.
I confess failures, and celebrate successes with the ladies in my fitness support group. You can have your own. It’s as easy as gathering some friends in a secret Facebook group.
2. Moving More
I have fully embraced the American Heart Association’s mantra about exercise: Something is better than nothing!
3. Eating Less
I have invested the time in cooking healthy meals and stocking my kitchen with healthy snacks. I cannot “diet” and deprive myself, but I know how to eat nutritious, delicious foods that boost my health and keep me satisfied.
What does this look in action?
For the past 30 days, I have moved 10000 steps each and EVERY day. Probably about 3000 to 5000 of these steps are achieved on the treadmill at speeds between 3.0 and 5.0 with most of them happening at 4.0, but if I can get outside, I prefer that. I have also been known to do four extra laps around the grocery store to get my steps in. I subscribe to the science behind interval training. No matter how fast I am going, I usually ramp up the speed by 1.0-1.5 for about a minute at a time. If I am on the treadmill for 30 minutes, I usually interval up five or six times. I also set the incline for 1 or 2 to make sure my intensity is good enough. I would go higher, but it hurts my knee.
I have MFP set for 1.5 lb/per week weight loss. This allows me 1220 calories per day, which I admit is hard to maintain EXCEPT I really end up eating between 1300 and 1475 calories per day because of my Fitbit exercise credit. It is a bit of a mind game, but it works for me.
I just cannot eat “diet” food. It tastes like plastic and the portions are miniscule. I must eat food that is delicious and allows for satisfying portions. With that being said, I cannot live on salad alone either.
While every choice is part of the Big Picture, not every choice has to be perfect. Fitness and health has to be a lifestyle, not some “diet” to blast through.
In thirty days, I have lost just over ten pounds (one third of the way to my goal) and several inches from my waist, booty, and arms. I have leveled down to the next size of jeans in my closet. I feel tremendously more comfortable in my own skin already.
♦Adequate levels of fitness take more than a casual stroll, but they also don’t require 90 minutes of marathon running and weight lifting. DJust move! An object in motion tends to stay in motion and it’s surprising what you can achieve if you just take that first step. I still miss the “high” from running, but my knee appreciates walking and the ten less pounds it has to haul around.
♦Accountability is key. My overachieving self can’t help but beat the 10000 step goal each and every day on my FItbit. Plus, since I can link up with my friends, THEY can see if I’m reaching my goals, too. Pride, in this case, works for me.
♦If you aren’t recording your food, you are most likely eating too much. As they say in Weight Watchers, if you bite it, you write it. I weigh or measure out every portion I eat.
Now go forth and move! The road to fitness can be walked!