I heard you got a fancy new watch! And now you’re into tracking steps. We all know that 10,000 steps per day is the recommended activity level, but why?
I recently read this article from the Washington Post about the history of 10,000 steps. In summary, Americans average 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day doing regular things- working, walking around home and the community, etc. Add 30 min of moderate exercise and it adds up to 10,000 steps. There’s not a lot of science behind the number 10,000; it’s just a target to get people on track for 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Are activity trackers important in fitness and wellness? Well, it depends. If you are a competitive person, and/or motivated by numbers, a fitness tracker will likely keep you moving. On the other hand, if you aren’t competitive or a data-junkie, an activity tracker won’t make as much of an impact on your motivation for achieving steps.
Recent studies have shown that inactivity and lots of sitting during the day is one of the worst things for your heart and overall health. Getting up and moving frequently during the day is essential to overall health and wellness.
Many days when I’m busy doing the mom thing, chasing kids, running errands, etc. I get discouraged because I didn’t make time for a workout. But on these days my step tracker can be a positive surprise at the end of the day, letting me know that yep, I was busy and I made it to my step goal.
But now is the time of ‘work from home and the kids are back in school’ days. I really excel in the sport of sitting. Looking at my step total at the end of the day is quite discouraging. It’s so hard to get and move during the day, especially when it’s winter outside! My step tracker is an external motivator to get me moving.
If you are new to step tracking, how do you start? First, get a baseline of your own activity level. This can be tracking steps, noticing the amount of moderate exercise in a day, and possibly how much sleep you get each night. After tracking for a week or so, develop reasonable goals to increase any areas that are less than recommended amounts (10,000 steps, 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, 7-8 hours of sleep each night). If it suits you, create some friendly competition. Most of the common devices (FitBit, Garmin, Apple Watch) have a find friends feature, enabling you to see step counts of your buddies. Plus, this helps with accountability for those who are externally motivated!
Then, wear it! Consistently. And pay attention to any patterns. Is there one day a week where you step way over your goal? Figure out why. Same goes for days that are not as active. A step tracker can be a great tool to keep you going on your wellness journey.
If you want to read more about Fitness Trackers, here is an an interesting article about why so many people quit using trackers after awhile.
And if you are Garmin user like I am, this Another Mother Runner Podcast is where I learned how to really use my device!
Keep on stepping, my friends! I’m always up for a step challenge, anyone want to try and beat me?!