A journey of 10,000 steps: Part II

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Part I was about exercise:  How we resolve to do it, but don’t. How we say we’d like to, but don’t have enough time.

How before we humans had “life-styles,” we didn’t exercise as such but were physically active. We had to be active so we could hunt down our dinner and avoid becoming dinner for another creature.

Now we’re busy, but are we physically active? Are we active enough? Are we so physically active, like earlier humans, that we don’t need to exercise as such to stay healthy?

And the answer is: it depends!

This post is based upon the book  “Move Yourself:  The Cooper Clinic Medical Director’s Guide to All the Healing Benefits of Exercise (Even a Little!)” by Tedd Mitchell, MD, Tim Church, MD, and Martin Zucker. 

According to the authors, physical activity is movement—mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles of the supermarket.

Exercise is a type of physical activity for which you set time aside for bodily exertion.

In other words, all exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise.

So before you decide whether you need to exercise, you need to know how much physical activity you are getting now, and here’s where the 10,000 Step Program comes in. Here’s what you need to do:

Buy a step counter or pedometer

A step-counter is a small device which clips on your belt or waistband and measures physical activity by counting the steps you take. A pedometer, which is similar, counts elapsed time and distance—based on your average stride length—as well as the number of steps. Both are available at most sporting goods stores.   

Log your steps every day

In the morning, clip on the step counter and go about your daily routine. At bedtime, remove it and record how many steps you took. That’s your starting point—how physically active you are now. The next morning, reset the step counter to zero and log your steps again.

Drs. Mitchell and Church emphasize that the results will positively amaze you! Patients in the weight management programs at the Cooper Clinic initially tend to report only 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day. Some people report as few as 1,500 steps, while those “with even smaller numbers are usually reluctant to report anything.”

Even the authors found using the step counter to be an eye-opening experience. Dr. Michell runs every morning and says he thought that he also got a lot of walking in on the job. However, the first day he used the step counter, he was “totally floored” to see that by noon he had logged only 500 steps. And Martin Zucker, a writer who works at home, was taking only 2,000 or 3,000 steps a day. He himself calls that “seriously sedentary.”

Every week increase your daily number of steps by 500

While you’re working up to 10,000 steps per day, continue to log your daily step counts. You’ll find yourself trying to outdo yourself. As Martin Zucker found,

The step counter can be quite a contagious contraption. 

photo by firepile

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