Thursday, July 2, 2009

Walking Basics: Get Your Pedometer

Here are some walking facts you need to know:
• The recommended daily steps: 10,000 or five miles.
• The recommended amount of walking time: 30 minutes a day.
• Take your 30 minutes all at once or spread it out into three 10-minute walks: both work just as well.
• Always warm up first and stretch afterwards.

The Basics
Get a Pedometer
I've lost, crushed, flushed, washed, and dried pedometers. Some cost more than $30, while others I picked up for free at health fairs. My advice: get a cheap one. Then test it. Try it on different areas of your waistband to see which gives you the most accurate read.

Wear your pedometer daily for the next week. The goal for this first week is to see how many steps you are currently taking per day. Record your “score” each night. (I record my daily step total in a calendar that I keep by my bed.) You may also want to record some of your daily activities—so you can tell what you are doing to get the steps. For example, yesterday by 2:00 PM, I had more than 6,000 steps. Of course, I'd worked out at the YMCA, walked to the coffee shop to write, and then ran around the house doing laundry. Today, it is 2:30, and I have a paltry 2,392 steps. But all I've done today is sit on my big ol' bottom half (in my penguin pjs) and worked on the computer! Time to get out and move.

Increase your current activity level. Once you know your routine, you can add steps. If you have yet to reach the recommended 30-minutes a day, add 10 minutes of walking on three of the next seven days. If you currently walk 30 minutes a day, then increase your workout by 10 percent—by adding 3 minutes of walking to three of the next seven days.

Think small. Most of us fail at exercise programs because we think big (I'll run every day!), fail miserably (after that first day, you're too sore to move!), and give up. Better to take small steps. The runner John "the Penguin" Bingham began running when he was 40ish and overweight. On the first day he ran down the driveway. Yup, that's it. But this small first step enabled him to take bigger ones. You might walk to the mailbox. Park farther from the store entrance. Take the stairs. Little steps add up. Try it!

No comments: