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All It Takes is 10,000 Steps

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All It Takes is 10,000 Steps

Have you heard about Shape Up America's 10,000 Steps Program? Supported by the 2005 Healthy Living Strategy here in Canada, the program recommends that we strap on a pedometer to measure whether we're walking enough for good health.

Have you heard about Shape Up America’s 10,000 Steps Program? Supported by the 2005 Healthy Living Strategy here in Canada, the program recommends that we strap on a pedometer to measure whether we’re walking enough for good health.

But did you take 10,000 steps yesterday? Chances are you didn’t, as nearly 70 percent of North Americans do not meet the 10,000-steps-per-day recommendation.

A study conducted recently at the University of Wisconsin led researchers to conclude that workers in only half of the 10 occupations measured took 10,000 steps at work. That’s why it is important for people to make a concerted effort to get more physical activity off the job. This daunting number of steps, which equal approximately eight kilometres, may be much easier to attain than you think.

Getting Started

First things first: buy a pedometer, usually available for less than $30. Go with a basic model that simply counts steps. You don’t need to track calories or measure heart rate.

Hook your pedometer over your waistband and track your daily totals over five days. Be sure to move through your daily routine without adding more activity so that the pedometer accurately measures how much you walk on a normal day.

Step It Up

Once you have determined the average total number of steps you normally take, assess your daily routine to figure out where you can add more steps to reach your 10,000-steps-a-day goal.

Try the Following:

Walk around while talking on the phone–If you have a portable phone, use it to increase your steps. Simply pace back and forth if your phone isn’t cordless.

Park your car farther from your destination–Rather than circling the parking lot like a shark on the hunt, park at the farthest end of the lot. You will save the gas used trying to find the closest possible parking stall and increase your steps at the same time.

Take the stairs, not the elevator–Leave for your appointment five minutes earlier and use the time walking the stairs. You’ll fit in more steps and have time to mentally prepare for your appointment.

Go for a walk at lunch–Pack your walking shoes when you pack your lunch so you can take a brisk walk on your lunch break. Not only will you get some much-needed fresh air, you’ll boost your metabolism.

Watch an hour less television a day–Researchers at the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston studied 500 people and reached the following conclusions:

  • For every hour of television watched, participants walked an average of 144 fewer steps.
  • Those who watched four or more hours of television a day were unlikely to meet the 10,000 steps per day recommended for general health and fitness.

Once you achieve your 10,000-steps-a-day goal, begin to challenge yourself by walking up hills and stairs to make some steps harder. Then increase your intensity by trying to do the same number of steps in a shorter period of time.

Walking with a pedometer is a great way to begin to boost your fitness. Use these ideas to launch a walking program and then to challenge your speed and distance.

Calculate Your Activity

If you prefer to jog or run, bike, swim, kayak, or work out on the stair climber at the gym, go ahead and do it. Use the physical activity calculator on the shapeup.org website to find out how many steps your favourite activity provides.

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