Use a pedometer to increase your daily movement as a way to be healthier.
HOW DO I USE A PEDOMETER TO MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH?
A pedometer is a tool to measure steps. It can be as simple as measuring steps only, to a more complex device that can calculate calories, distance and heart rate. It can be a wearable device that you wear like a watch or an app in your smartphone to measure steps.
It is feasible to use, inexpensive, and it can objectively measure physical activity, motivate a person to exercise or walk. Some evidence showed that it can decrease BMI and blood pressure as well.
OPTIMUM STEP COUNT
Many health and fitness experts recommend walking 10,000 steps every day as a way to maintain health. It’s believed that the 10,000 steps originated in Japan during 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
During that time, the Japanese were thinking how to increase their own fitness. Soon after, the first commercial pedometer — called the manpo-meter — was introduced. Since then, 10,000 steps has become a commonly-acknowledged goal for daily fitness across the world.
Between 1980 and 2000, many studies indicated that healthy younger adults take 7,000-13,000 steps/day.
In 2004, researchers Tudor-Locke and Bassett proposed pedometer determined cutoff points for healthy adults:
1) less than 5,000 steps a day — sedentary
2) 5,000-7,499 steps a day — low active
3) 7,500-9,999 steps a day — somewhat active
4) 10,000-12,499 steps a day — active
5) 12,500 steps a day — highly active
However, in children ages 6 to 12 who need extra activity, The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition suggests that they get at least 12,000 steps a day.
Our average daily steps is between 4,000 and 6,000 steps. The 10,000 steps recommendation is usually not achievable through daily activities. The deficit of daily steps must be gained from additional activity.
HOW DOES STEP COUNT FIT INTO THE CURRENT EXERCISE RECOMMENDATION?
Some physical activity is better than none. Any step-based recommendation should be harmonious with existing physical activity guidelines, which is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, with minimum bout of 10 minutes.
Step count is unable to measure intensity of walking. In order to meet the FITT(Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time) framework, walking 3,000 steps in 30 minutes per day at a rate of 100 steps per minute is able to meet the recommended 150 minutes of PA at moderate intensity per week.
Walking at rate 100 steps per minute is considered as brisk walking. Some evidence showed that 30 minutes of minimally moderate-intensity PA translates directly to 3,000-4,000 steps a day.
HOW DO I USE PEDOMETER TO INCREASE STEP COUNT?
1. Get your normal baseline step count. Use it throughout the day for about a week as you do your routine daily activities at home and at work. Get your average per day by dividing the total steps by seven.
2. Increase step gradually. Set a short term goal of adding about 2,000 steps a day for two weeks or more by incorporating a planned walking programme into your schedule. Repeat, until you reach recommended steps count, for example, 10,000 steps a day.
3. Set step goals. A long-term goal may be walking 10,000 or 12,000 steps a day, or about 8km per day or more.
4. Monitor your progress. Sync the data to your computer or mobile device. By monitoring your progress, it can help you see if you’re meeting your goals. It may be time to set new strategy to increase step count or set new goal.
In the next column: Step increasing strategy, how to choose a pedometer and how to lose weight with it.
An avid sportsman who believes in the healing powers of exercise, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Taufik Jamil is Universiti Teknologi Mara’s public health consultant and exercise physician. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.