Sunday, August 22, 2010

Do You Get in 10,000 Steps A Day?

I recently tweeted about getting a free t-shirt and pedometer at my gym.  I go to the local YMCA, which has turned out to be a pretty fabulous gym.  It has really nice equipment, a good pool, and offers group fitness classes as well.  The Y also offers several different programs throughout the year for members and to attract new members each year.  The new program they have started recently is called the Get Moving Challenge for people to get in 10,000 steps a day.  So when you sign up to participate you get a free t-shirt and a pedometer to track your steps each day.
This program reminded me of the benefits getting in 10,000 steps a day is.  The sign-up also came with a bunch of information that I thought I would share with you all.  If you are just starting your new healthy lifestyle or want to increase your physical activity getting a pedometer and tracking your steps is an easy and great way to do so.  

Why 10,000 steps?  Well 10,000 steps equals about 5 miles.  We all know that getting in exercise is important and the notion of tracking your steps is one way to gradually increase your activity.  A study in 2005 found that more steps are achieved if a goal of 10,000 is recommended compared to the recommendation of 30 minutes of activity. (source

So what do you do?  Well if your local YMCA is offering this Get Moving program as well I would check it out.  If you are not member by signing up for the program you get a free two-week membership to the Y, along with the pedometer and t-shirt.  If there is not a Y near you or if you already have a gym membership, you can buy a pedometer from any athletic store and even superstores like Target or Wal-Mart.  They usually cost less than $30, it just depends on how fancy you want the pedometer to be.
You simply attach the pedometer to your waistband each morning and track how many steps  you take each day during your regular routine.  The first week of tracking should just be your normal routine.  At the end of each day write down the number of steps shown on your pedometer.  These numbers will be your starting point and what you will be looking to increase as you continue.  Most people log around 900-4,000 steps a day during there regular living.  
At the end of the first week you can start to set some goals for how many steps you want to log each day.  A couple ideas are to take the day with the highest amount of steps and get in that many everyday or increase each day's steps by 500-1,000 steps each week until you reach a desired goal.  You could also plan to set a goal for the month to be walking a certain amount of steps each day (i.e. 5,000 steps/day by the end of September and then 7,000 by the end of October) whatever numbers work best for you.  The plan is different for each person so choose goals that will be challenging, but attainable for you.  Each week you should be adding more and more walking into your schedule so that you eventually reach 10,000 steps per day.  

If walking for exercise is not for you, you can convert the exercise you do do into steps for the 10,000 step challenge. 
Here is little conversion chart: (source- YMCA informational packet)
Steps Per Minute
Aerobic Dancing
Aerobic Step
Bicycling (cardio cycling)
Bicycling (moderate)
Circuit Training
Jogging in water
Jumping Rope
Running (10mph or 6min/mile)
Stair Climber
Weight Lifting

The benefits of exercise and physical activity (if you didn't already know or just want a refresher) source
-Boosts energy level and improves mood
-Assists in weight management
-Reduces risk of chronic diseases
-Increases muscle and bone mass
-Reduces stress and tension
-Improves sleep
-Increases circulation
-Improves balance and flexibility
All of those benefits sound pretty good to me, so why not get moving!  I know that adding exercise into my routine makes me feel so much better.

How many steps equal an active lifestyle?  As your daily number of steps increases so does your fitness and health.  Here is a table to inform and motivate you:(source- YMCA informational packet)
Steps Per Dy
Activity Level
Less than 5,000
Slightly Active
Moderately Active
12,500 or more
Very Active

The point of this whole program is to get you moving, by adding physical activity to your daily life.  I think it is great way to gradually increase your activity level and improve your health in general.  If you already exercise regularly you can still benefit from this challenge as well.  I am a regular exerciser, but I am taking this challenge to see if I can increase the number of steps I take on rest days and just to get an idea of how many steps I take during a regular day.  I think it will be interesting and I look forward to increasing my activity a bit more.  

Here are a few website resources to learn more about walking 10,00 steps a day:
10,000 Steps Library
Shape Up America
10,000 Steps a Day to Your Optimal Weight (book)

Are you up to the 10,000 Steps a Day challenge?  What are some of your fitness and exercise goals?  Do you use a pedometer to track your steps?  Do you get in 10,000 steps a day?