Using a Pedometer For A Reality Check

Pedometer Use

I use a pedometer as a reality check. I often go home tired after a day in surgery or in the office. I'm tired so I must have expended a lot of energy and therefore used a lot of calories and done a lot of moving right? Wrong!

In the course of a "normal" day most adults take anywhere from 900 to 3000 steps in a day and not much more. That means to truly get "enough" physical activity in daily, I (and you) need to go for that daily walk.

Fortunately, I enjoy walking. Most days (barring horrible weather) I enjoy my walks with my dog. Other days--I just do it--rain or cold or heat.

The use of a pedometer has been shown to be associated with a significant increase in physical activity, decreases in body mass index, and decreased blood pressure. Overall, pedometer users increase their physical activity by 26.9% over baseline. The person who gets the most out of the use of a pedometer is the who has a step goal (ie 10,000 steps per day).

You don’t need an expensive pedometer. The Sportline 340 works well. You don’t need to program the step length, but if you do, you will be able to track the miles walked per day. As mentioned above, you wish to keep it simple by just setting a step goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Some suggestions on getting started with your new pedometer...

* Start out by wearing the pedometer each day for two weeks and don't do anything to change your normal routine. Keep an exercise log of the daily step count. At the end of the second week, take a look at how many steps you are taking each day in the course of living your life.

* If you feel comfortable doing so, take the highest number of steps you have walked on any given day during that 2 week period. Use that number of steps (ie 2500 steps) as your first daily step goal. To avoid injury, do not select a higher number. Continue to keep your step log.


* At the end of that two week period, review all the steps you took each day. If you are ready, add another 500 steps to your daily goal. Your new step goal is now 3000 steps a day for the next two week period.

* Continue in that manner, working up until you finally reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.

* The goal is to keep you active for the rest of your life. So don't go overboard and injury yourself. Take it slow. Take it easy.

* It takes about six months to "lock in" a new behavior. Aim to do what is necessary to change your exercise behavior permanently. Be prepared to dedicate yourself to your daily goal each day for a minimum of six months. If you do that, you are much more likely to maintain this goal permanently.

* If you skip a few days due to illness, work or other obligations, the sooner you get back into the exercise groove, the more likely you will be able to get back into your routine.

* Reaching that walking activity goal of 10,000 steps does not mean that you can increase your food intake. Continue to try to eat a healthy and reasonable portion diet.

* So the weather's yucky, walk laps at the mall, go to a museum, or walk laps inside your home. Get up and move!


Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health: A Systematic Review; Dena M Bravata, MD and others; JAMA, Nov 21, 2007, Vol 298, No 19, pp2296-2304

Shape Up America! 10,000 Step Program