Diet Blog

Wear a pedometer, lose more weight

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Studies have shown that wearing a pedometer can actually help you to lose more weight. The simple reason is that it encourages you to focus on the goal of achieving a certain number of steps, which you can make up through regular exercise as well as incidental exercise, like walking to the train station or taking the stairs instead of the lift. By having this reminder, it can be easier to make the choice to be active when you’re faced with options- and seeing the amount you have completed can be a real motivational tool.

What is a pedometer?

A pedometer is a small electronic device that you clip on to the waistband of your pants. In its simplest form, it counts the number of steps you take by responding to the movement of your hips and the vibrations of your feet hitting the ground. This can give you a good indication of how active you have been on any given day.  

You can buy a basic pedometer for around $10. Or, if you want something a bit fancier, there are more advanced models on the market that include things like distance counters, calorie loss counters, calendars, stopwatches, or even radios or MP3 players. Depending on your purposes, you’re sure to find a product that works well for you.

How does it help my fitness?

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a review of 16 clinical trials to observe the effect of using a pedometer on weight loss. In total, there were almost 3,000 participants, who were monitored throughout physical activity programs. After an average period of 18 weeks, it was found that those who used a pedometer walked an extra 2,500 steps each day- which resulted in increasing their physical activity levels by 27%, reducing their BMI by 0.4, burning an extra 100 calories a day, and reducing their systolic blood pressure by 3.8 points. All pretty convincing reasons to get moving!

But the catch is: these results were only seen when the person had planned ahead how many steps to aim for in a day, and used the pedometer to check if they had reached their goal. If they hadn’t set a goal, they continued to walk the usual amount. So, for whatever reason, wearing a pedometer was found to motivate people to reach their goal.


How many steps should I aim for?

Generally, experts recommend that you aim for at least 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health. This equates to around 30 minutes of exercise each day, though of course it varies depending on your fitness levels, age and health.

Use the first few days of wearing a pedometer to figure out what your current average daily step count would be. Then, set a goal to increase it by 1,000 to 2,000 steps. Once you’ve achieved that, increase it again, until you work up to at least 10,000 a day. After that, you can keep increasing your goal as you feel comfortable.

If you need more support and encouragement to get started, recruit some friends and set a challenge of getting in your 10,000 steps every day. That way you can remain accountable, and feel more inspired to get out there every day. Or, you can join the Australian 10,000 Steps program- a free, non-profit initiative that allows you to log and record your steps on their website. Having group support and the sense of being a part of a challenge can be a real motivator, helping you to reach and often surpass your goal.

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