Sometimes walking outdoors cannot happen.
Today in Chicago we woke up to -3 degrees with a windchill of -12. As the day went on, the predicted high was some single digit number with a windchill. Since I was not about to brave the extreme cold and a possible case of frostbite, I needed an alternative – ahhh, this might be a good day to dig out my pedometer.
I find the pedometer to be an easy, low cost device to count the number of steps I take in one day. My pedometer is a sportline model and I have had it for over 10 years. It measures distance, calorie counts, and steps per minute.
When I was working, I considered myself a very active Physical Education teacher. I taught 5 classes and rarely sat down, each class met at a different teaching station -sometimes upstairs, sometimes outdoors, sometimes in another wing of the building. Then on my off periods, I used to walk around a lot, going to the mailroom, the copy room, the teacher’s lounge etc. I thought I easily accumulated 10,000 steps in my day, until one day I decided to start a project with my students to find out how many steps we were actually getting outside of gym class. This was the first time I used a pedometer to track my steps. I was a bit surprised to find I was in the 6000-8000 range.
The recommended dose of steps per day to achieve health benefits is 10,000 or about 5 miles. That means 2000 steps equal a mile, or about 20 minutes of walking. For those interested in weight loss, the number of steps jumps to 12,000 – 15,000 steps per day.
What I like about using a pedometer is the instant feedback as well as the motivation and accountability it provides. I clip it on my waistband on my side just above my hip, knowing I can check it throughout the day by simply flipping it open.
When it seems like my number of steps is low I become aware of moving around more. I may throw in some extra walking – parking further away from my destination, or better yet, leave the car at home on short trips. I might take some extra dog walks or up the pace when walking them. I also could use the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator when out shopping. At work, I used to walk to someone’s office instead of calling or texting. At home, I can always look for more chores to do – shovel snow, rake leaves, mow the lawn, clean the house, go up and down the stairs to do laundry.
During my project at school, I used it the first week to get benchmark data on my steps. I made a chart and recorded my # of steps per day for one week. For the second week, I reviewed the data then set a goal to try to add more daily steps. As time went on I would keep setting goals for additional weeks until I reached 10,000 steps. By this time I had a good feel for the amount of movement I needed in my days and I tried to maintain it. I was pleasantly surprised to find some days I was getting twelve and fifteen thousand steps without even trying.
Yes, on this extremely cold day, a pedometer is just the thing I need.