Staying active throughout the day is important for a lot of reasons. Movement makes your body happy, your mind sharper and your physiology more efficient. Most people over estimate how active they are by a considerable amount. When talking with my clients about exercise and movement, I strongly recommend that they use some sort of activity tracker like a Fitbit, Jawbone UP Band, Apple Watch or one of the many other activity tracker options that are out there these days.
Even those that hit the ground with a power walk or 3 mile run first thing in the morning should pay attention to what is happening later in the day. A vigorous gym session once a day is not a free pass to be a slug the rest of your waking hours. There are a lot of reviews of fitness trackers and here is the one I found most helpful: New York Times review of fitness trackers (click here to read). While the reviews here show more costly models, check around, as prices can start as low as $49.99.
Keep in mind that the simpler, the better. If you’re not going to do anything with the information, you don’t need to know your heart rate or have graphs created with your speed and miles covered. If the device has the same features as your smart phone, you may find it more distracting than helpful.
Some devices offer online information and support included in the price, others require a subscription. Decide what you need ahead of time and don’t let yourself be talked in to getting one that is considerably more expensive and complicated unless you really need the bells and whistles. One of the very best activity trackers is a simple pedometer that you can get for your smart phone, for free!
The general wisdom is you should average 10,000 steps in a day. There isn’t any data to back this up as the ideal number but it translates into about five miles of walking.
Once you get started tracking your steps, it’s not hard to begin slowly adding a few more steps each day. If 10,000 seems like a lot and you struggle to even make that number, here are a few tips to sneak some extra steps:
• Take a walk to the mailbox to get the mail, rather than picking it up on your way home in the car.
• If you have stairs in your house, walk up and down them just for fun.
• Park your car across the street from where you’re going and walk to your appointments.
• Walk for 10 minutes after every meal; your digestive system will thank you as well.
• When grocery shopping, leave your cart at the end of the aisle, walk down the aisle gathering what you need and then return to your cart.
• After loading up your car with those groceries, walk the cart all the way back into the store.
• If you head to the mall for a shopping trip, walk two laps around the mall before spending any money.
• Rather than having lunch with friends, take a walk with friends (and then have lunch)
• Every time you’re on the phone, walk around or march in place.
A little more activity often leads to even more activity and your body loves to accommodate that sort of thing by burning more calories, being less stiff and giving you back more energy and mental clarity. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!