We’ve all heard it: walk 10,000 steps every day, right? So, how far are 10,000 steps and what’s the best way to keep track? LMQC fit blogger Aryn Lloyd, Rock Valley Physical Therapy, shows you how.
For many, 10,000 steps can seem like a big number.
While tracking steps can be a great tool for health improvement (we become more mindful, we set goals, they are a great motivational tool) the actual distance of 10,000 steps is about 5 miles or 8 kilometers (depending on stride length).
You need to assess your own abilities to see if 10,000 steps is a realistic goal for you.
Which tracker do you need?
Wearable technology and step trackers are great tools for motivation and feedback. With all the choices out there, it pays to do a little research before and after investing in a tracking device.
Make a list of what would help keep you focused, along with your price range.
Do you want only to track steps? Then a basic pedometer ($1-$30) will do.
Prices go up as features increase: A Fitbit Zip ($60) also tracks calories burned. A Fitbit Flex (starting at $80) tracks sleep quality as well. The Garmin Vivofit 3 (around $70) reminds you to stay active with move bar and audible alert.
A tracker with all the bells and whistles, like the Apple Watch Series 2 can run $270 on up.
To get the most of fitness tracking, a tracker with GPS capabilities, calories, heart rate are good options to look for.
Additional options might be pace, split times, Bluetooth capabilities for music, apps, sleep, stress with heart rate variability functions, VO2 max, rep counting for weight lifting, battery life.
The extra features will cost you more, of course. And remember that with all devices, there will always be new models and new technology.
What’s new in tracking?
Companies like Under Armour are already putting tracking devices in shoes, which will track your run or walk and even muscle fatigue!
Most tracking devices are worn on your wrist via a band or watch and sync with health and fitness apps where you can review your steps, calories, distance, sleep, stress and more.
If you are looking for step and calorie feedback I recommend syncing your device to the free myfitness pal app. Devices you can sync to myfitnesspal include Fitbit, Garmin, Under Armour, Withings, Pacer Pedometer, Polar Flow, Misfit, Accupedo Pedometer.
If you are more into tracking for running and cycling, check out the social Strava app. Devices that work with the Strava app are Garmin devices like the Garmin Forerunner 35, TomTom, Polar M200, Samsung Gear S3 and Applewatch Series 2.
With this app, you can leave your phone at home and the device will still track and sync your workout!
Want to get the most out of your trackers?
Start your search by which smartphone you already have (iOS or Android), and what apps you are already using. Compatible devices with Apple Health are the Apple Watch Series 2 ($270 on up), Misfit Shine 2 ($80), and Xiaomi Mi Band 2 ($31.68).
Google Fit works primarily with Android devices. Devices that sync with Google Fit are the Moto 360 Sport ($134), Polar M200 ($150), Polar M600 ($340), and New Balance Run IQ ($300), to name a few.
But while technology is doing some really cool stuff, we don’t actually need smartphones or smart watches to be healthy or fit. A basic tracker featuring steps, distance, and calories are usually enough to keep your motivation moving in the right direction.
Tracking devices were introduced in the 1960s in the US as a way to combat the increased prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
An organization called Shape Up America adopted the 10,000 step initiative when a new device from Japan called manpo-kei, meaning “10,000 steps meter,” was accepted as the proper balance of caloric intake and activity-based caloric expenditure to maintain a healthy body.
This was later known as the pedometer in the US. We’ve come a long way since the old-fashioned pedometer! No matter what tracker you choose, it’s important to know how to get the most from every step. Here’s how:
Get a personal step baseline
My suggestion when first getting your step tracking device is to get a baseline. How many steps do you currently do in a day?
Try to notice trends like fewer or more steps during the workday or weekend. You may find the reverse to be true if you find you have an active job. Do you always wear your tracking device? Is it on a watch, your phone, a pedometer? Make sure you are getting an accurate measurement.
Once you get a baseline try to slowly add more steps.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. What does that mean for walking or running? Let’s break it down.
Moderate-pace walking is about 100 steps per minute. Test it out for yourself and see how many steps you can comfortably take in one minute. See how many steps you can take in 10 minutes.
Hint: If you can fit in 100 steps in 1 minute you can do 1,000 steps in 10 minutes!
Be clever with your steps!
One of the best ways to accumulate steps over the day is by adding brief sessions of physical activity throughout your day.
If you notice you have been sitting or standing in place for more than 30 minutes, get moving and recirculate that blood! Try walking for 10 minutes while talking on the phone. Make a 10-minute walk the first thing you do in the morning. You can get your first 1,000 steps in before heading out for the day.
Later, try a 10-minute walking meeting, or take a 10-minute walk or jog before you eat a meal.
When you can break up your walking sessions you might be surprised how quickly those steps add up!
Keep in mind that while walking is a great form of physical activity – and a mode that can be done by most people – it’s important to not leave out strength exercises (working and targeting specific muscle groups).
It’s also important to add some inclines or hills while walking or running. That extra challenge may boost your strength, stamina, and self-esteem, and it will surely strengthen your heart and lungs!
While 10,000 steps is an easy number to remember, it may not be the magic number for you. Aim to get more steps throughout your day for better health outcomes. And tell yourself that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Keep moving!
|Aryn Lloyd is a Health Coach for Rock Valley Health. A Type 1 diabetic, she has led many chronic disease programs, including the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. She lives in Davenport with her husband, Ben, and their two daughters, Britta and Klara. You can read Aryn’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|