Now that cold winter weather is behind us (maybe), it’s time to get moving again. Clocks have sprung forward and it’s time for us to spring back into fitness after the worst of the winter weather is finally behind us. With the temperature starting to warm up a bit, spring is the ideal time to get yourself back into the exercise regimen.
Where to start? If you have to ask this question, then it’s been a lot longer since you laced up a pair of sneaks and walked around the block then is good for you! The first thing you need to do is re-establish a goal for yourself. A realistic one that can be met with a commitment by you to get out and walk a measured circuit. One that you can do initially that will start out taxing you, but will in time, improve your body’s physical stamina With reliable Pedometers and other tracking tools available it’s easy to stay accountable. You may have heard a lot of buzz about the 10,000 steps per day program, and why it’s a good goal to work towards, but where did this recommendation originate and why? It dates to the early 1960s when a Japanese company created the first wearable pedometer. It was named “Manpo-Kei”, which translates to “10,000 step meter.” With the average person taking between 3,000 and 5,000 steps daily, it was concluded that coronary heart disease risk could be significantly reduced by increasing the steps to 10,000 per day. Using a tracking device can allow you to see just what and how long it will take you to reach that goal. And once you have, you can increase the difficulty of achieving it by adding some wrist or ankle weights to your walk, or work against your time to lower the amount of time it takes you to reach your daily step goal. By continually increasing your steps per time, per distance you will continue to push your body to new levels that will only benefit you. After all, isn’t your ultimate goal to be in better shape and health? Walking regularly will help you achieve that ultimate goal.
There is not any solid evidence that 10,000 is a magical number, but studies show that those taking 10,000 steps daily have lower blood pressure, more stable blood sugar, and better moods than those less active. There is valid research by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association suggesting 150 minutes of exercise weekly can improve overall health, fitness, and emotional well-being. This equates to a moderate paced walk of 30 minutes/day which will likely take about 3,000 to 4,000 steps. So, 10,000 steps each day will greatly surpass this recommendation. And the “Key” to this is to make sure your pace is one where you can carry on a conversation without getting winded but fast enough to make you work for it!
With the explosion of technological ways to measure exercise with Digital Pedometers, (like the Omron HJ 329 along with Fitness Trackers, and Smart Watches, like the
Garmin Vivosport GPS Sport & Activity Tracker and even simple smartphone apps, people are more conscious than ever about how many steps they take daily. Many of these devices also monitor pulse and heart rate as well as calories burned. Even health (insurance companies) such as United Healthcare, are getting involved by providing fitness trackers to go along with their wellness programs.
Keep in mind, taking steps is not a complete workout. Strength training and stretching are important components of a well-balanced fitness program. Your primary beginning goal should be to get moving and increase your heart rate.
Here’s your spring-leaning tips to help get you started:
- Talk to your doctor: If you’re over 50, inactive, or have a chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer, taking 10,000 steps daily may have adverse effects. Your doctor may be able to guide you to a more realistic starting goal.
- Start with less but progress: Error on the side of caution and underestimate your fitness ability. Even if you’ve stuck to your exercise program, you may still have regressed during the winter. If you start back too aggressively, you set yourself up for muscle soreness and injury. A good rule of thumb is never increasing your weight, speed or other measurements of intensity by more than 10 percent per week.
- Look for opportunities to move more: Take every opportunity to get yourself moving. Park at the farthest spot in the parking lot, walk your pets and take an evening walk after dinner. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is the energy expended for everything we do that is not structured exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work and chores, and even fidgeting. Even if you’re getting your prescribed 150 minutes of weekly exercise, that leaves you with 9,930 minutes to undo a lot of benefits if you are too inactive.
- Keep your expectations in check: The “no pain, no gain” approach to fitness doesn’t work. Try a smarter strategy. The longer you are inactive, the more time you’ll need to get back on track. Exercise stresses the body. Even though generally it is good stress, if you do too much too quickly, you’re more likely to suffer an injury that will set you back even farther.
Walking can be a great exercise for most people since it’s relatively easy on the joints, (IE: Low Impact), and is an activity most everyone can do. The 10,000 steps program can also be a great place to start for most.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and “Put some Spring in your Step,” and get moving!