Start the journey – Even the longest journey begins with a single step
Walking expends energy.
Energy expenditure helps to manage weight. Weight management helps to control blood pressure and cholesterol.
The principle is simple and the impact is conclusive – walking is good for your health. But how much do we need?
There’s no “correct” answer to this question, suffice to say that more is better, up to a point. By now we are all familiar with the fact that exercise has a positive impact on disease risk. Regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity, osteoporosis, hypertension – in fact it’s now become hard to find a disease that isn’t effected by exercise. In one study on elderly people, every extra kilometre walked per week reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by 7%.
Over recent years, the world has been gripped by the “pedometer” phenomena. Many have responded to an initiative to increase their flagging activity levels.
A pedometer is a small electronic device, worn on the hip, that measures the number of steps you take. They are used to provide the wearer with an indication of their total daily activity. A pedometer won’t do the exercise for you, but by giving feedback on activity levels, and letting you know whether you are “on track” they’ve been found to be great motivators, allowing people to monitor and (if necessary) increase their exercise levels for a healthier lifestyle and improved well-being.
The first 10,000 steps campaign
In 2001, the city of Rockhampton Australia was the site of the first “10,000 Steps” campaign. The project has been successful in motivating local communities, workplaces and individuals to increase their physical activity levels.
10,000 is not a magic number.
The fact is that if you were getting 3,000 steps a day, then moving to 5,000 or 6,000 would provide fantastic results in terms of long term weight management and risk reduction. But 10,000 is a reasonable amount for most of us to aspire to, and it can usually be obtained by increasing our general level of activity over the course of the day, without necessarily resorting to a significant amount of “formal exercise”.
The Maths of walking
All the little bits add up. Walking to the shops, the station, work, taking the stairs and generally looking for more active options over the course of the day will help get to 10,000 steps. We take approximately 2 steps per second during brisk walking, so 10,000 steps is around 5,000 seconds or 1 hour and 23 minutes. But most of us will pick up 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day without even trying, just by walking around the house, office or shops. So you only need to supplement the extra 6,000 to 7,000 steps.
Rating your activity level
The following categories apply to healthy adults:
• Less than 5000 steps a day = sedentary
• 5000–7499 = low active
• 7500–10,000 = somewhat active
• 10,000–12,499 = active
• 12,500 up = highly active
Note: you can’t tell which category you are in unless you have a pedometer – so go get one!
Weight loss is best achieved by small changes in behaviour over long periods of time. Unfortunately most people opt for the opposite (drastic short-term changes), only to find they are unsustainable. But sustainability is what it is all about.
Many people say they don’t have time for a 30-60 minute continuous workout during the day. But most people can fit in shorter walks on their way to and from work, home or school, and during breaks and lunches.
The debate over whether total daily steps vs. continuous exercise is better has only winners – whether you get the steps in several bouts throughout the day or you log them in one big session – it’s all good!
Walk across Australia
Dr Walker admits to being a bit of a pedometer tragic. His obsession started some years ago when he organised a “Walk across Australia” for a corporate client. In this program, teams of 10 add their daily step tally together and the results are plotted on a map of Australia – from Sydney to Perth (remarkably, a 10 person team will do this in 5-6 weeks). All of a sudden there were people sneaking out to walk around the block during their breaks (one smoker even pretended to go out for a fag, but was really getting an extra 1,000 steps each time).
It got ugly – if you left your pedometer unguarded, the enemy would push the reset button, erasing evidence of your good work. People began “volunteering” to go and get the milk for the cuppa’s, or do the quick expedition to Mario’s for the cappuccino’s (and walk a few hundred extra steps while waiting for the order to be completed).
Some people even admitted to attaching the pedometer to their PJs to pick up the early morning and late night activity (one poor soul even whacked it on to go to the loo in the middle of the night).
So I suppose if you’re going to obsess about something, you could do worse than obsessing about exercise.
Source Dr John Lang B.Ed MHK.PhD “Aspirations Newsletter ”
“It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”
~ Arnold Toynbee