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Count Your Daily Steps for Motivation

Aug 14, 2007

Dr. Sheri Colberg, author of The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, knows that Walking is the most popular leisure-time physical activity among adults and this week she wants to help motivate your patients by counting steps

Count Your Daily Steps for Motivation

By Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM


Count your daily steps for motivation

Sheri_ColbergWalking is the most popular leisure-time physical activity among adults, followed by gardening and yard work. Generally, walking expends about one calorie per kilogram (kg) of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2 equals kg) per kilometer (about 0.6 miles) when you walk at a speed of two to four miles per hour; for a person weighing 60 kg (130 lb), about 100 calories are used up per mile. Depending on the length of your stride, about 2,000 steps equals a mile; if you’re overweight, you will expend well more than 100 extra calories because of your larger body size.Incredibly, just taking those 2,000 extra steps a day can make the difference between gaining and losing weight (or at least not gaining any more).

If motivation is your biggest problem, make a game out of trying to count how many steps you take or set daily goals for yourself. Instructing sedentary, overweight women to walk 10,000 steps per day (monitored by a pedometer) has proven to be more effective at increasing their daily exercise than asking them to walk 30 minutes most days of the week. Based on the 10,000 Step Study mentioned previously, it appears that we could all benefit immensely from taking at least 10,000 steps each day. If nothing else, becoming more conscious of how active you are (or are not) during the day may spur you to add in more steps whenever possible. You may want to consider investing in an inexpensive pedometer for additional motivation. Keep in mind that, on average, 3,100 to 4,000 pedometer-determined steps are equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking.

Finding Motivation in Counting Your Daily Steps

The ADA sponsors Club Ped, an online group (www.diabetes.org/ClubPed/index.jsp) that you can join to keep track of your steps, your progress, and your step goals. All you need to get started is a pedometer. In addition, a national campaign called “America on the Move” (www.americaonthemove.org) advocates a minimum increase of 2,000 steps per day for everyone and offers a free online step tracker.

Many other pedometer-based walking programs can be accessed online at Web sites, including AccuSplit pedometer company, www.accustep10000.org, and StepTracker.com, www.steptracker.com. You can also purchase inexpensive pedometers through sporting-goods stores or order them online from various Web sites, including www.americaonthemove.org, www.accusplit.com, www.digiwalker.com, www.walk4life.com.  The site www.steps-to-health.org  offers a free walking program and online support.

A few tips on pedometer use: if you clip a pedometer somewhere on the front of your waistband and it does not appear to be accurate, try placing it at the small of your back (some pedometers are less effective if you have extra fat around your waist). Some models can actually be placed in your pocket (e.g., Omron Healthcare pedometers) or attached around your knee. Pedometers vary greatly in terms of accuracy and performance. While you may like ones with bells and whistles like calorie counters and distance trackers, all you really need is a pedometer that will accurately count the number of steps you take. Calorie counts are notoriously inaccurate (even on conditioning machines), and distance trackers depend on having an accurate measurement of the length of your stride (which then can’t be varied) to make their calculations. Go for simplicity but accuracy in step counters. Recommended models are Accusplit (the simplest model being the X120, with more features on the Eagle and Alliance models), Walk4Life (Neo Walkin’ Buddy or W4L Classic models), Yamax (SW200), and Omron (HJ-112 Premium) pedometers.


In two weeks, I will share more tips and ideas from my latest book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight (2006).  Information about all of my books, my many articles, my research, and more is available on my web site: www.SheriColberg.com


Tip for the day:  Drink only when you feel thirsty and don’t force yourself to drink more than the amount of fluid that satisfies your thirst–or water intoxication may result. To know how much fluid to replace after exercise, weigh yourself before and after a prolonged activity and only replace up to the weight you have lost (1 liter of water weighs 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds).