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Taking Health in Stride

Filed Under: Health Aids at 1:11 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
PedometerSophomore year of college, my mother and I entered into a friendly competition. We donned pedometers every day of the spring semester, recording each night the number of steps we had taken. At the end of the term, whoever had out-walked the other received a free lunch. I viewed the contest’s parameters suspiciously. My mother, a teacher, seemed to have an advantage over her bookworm, English-major daughter. But, I was determined to win. My daily goals increased with every step. Suddenly the city surrounding my school was my constant stomping ground. If I had a choice between driving to the store and walking two miles, I walked two miles. I roamed through more of Scranton in three months than I had in the previous year and probably in the two years that followed. When I returned home in May, I had beaten my mother by more than 30,000 steps.

The pedometer is a powerful motivator. Worn at your waist, it counts every step you take. If you hoof it through the day, walking miles upon miles, you’ll know. If you sit idly and take no more than ten steps, you’ll know that, too. So it’s only logical to assume that clipping one to a pair of pants can improve the wearer’s fitness, weight and blood pressure, but researchers wanted to be sure. They reviewed 26 studies with 2,767 people. Those who had worn pedometers took more than 2,000 extra steps a day.  Their blood pressure was down, and their weight loss was accelerated. They were increasing their health with every stride.

It’s a simple step towards fitness that is easy to take. Pedometers are relatively inexpensive, portable and constant reminders of how close you are to your daily movement goal. But before you buy, make sure that your step-counter counts properly.  Some miss steps. Some note each stride twice, and some interpret bumps in the road as an additional step. Some are also affected by speed. If you are walking too slowly, your activity won’t be recorded. However, this should not be too much of a concern, since you want to increase your gait, anyway. 

Once you have your pedometer, get going. Shoot for ten thousand steps a day, and walk away ill health.

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