Fitness trackers are everywhere now…Fit Bits, Jaw Bones, etc. You may have even seen my posts here on OYS about the Fit Bit. I do love my Fit Bit and I think there are a lot of benefits to wearing one of these little gadgets, but they aren’t for everybody. If you are new to exercise or returning to it after a long hiatus, or you just aren’t that tech savvy, you may benefit from something as simple as a basic pedometer. Here I will show you how a pedometer works, and how you can use it as a motivational tool.
A pedometer is a small little tracker that clips onto your clothing. The only function it has is to track your steps throughout the day. It will not count calories that you burn, monitor your heart rate, or any of the other extra things that a Fit Bit will do. My pedometer literally has one button. It is used to reset the pedometer to zero at the beginning of the day. It also toggles between showing you your steps for the day and your total steps. That’s it. Super simple to use, and once it’s clipped on, all you have to do is move!
Now it’s time to make that pedometer a powerful tool. I’m going to suggest you use it in two different ways. If you are just starting out with exercise, why not start with a simple walking program. No need to jump into a hard core bootcamp class right out of the gate. Walking is great exercise, it’s free, and you can do it anywhere. Lace up your sneakers, clip on your pedometer, and get walking. Set a goal for yourself each time you walk. Maybe for the first time, it will only be 250 steps. Increase it every single time you go out for a walk, even if it’s just by 20 steps or so. You will love the feeling of success you are getting by reaching your walking goals. This will motivate you to move on with your exercise routine to trying different things. Mix in some strength-training, go for a bike ride, or take a group fitness class. Keep wearing that pedometer and watch the number of steps you take in one day soar.
The other way to use your pedometer is to help you focus on increasing your regular daily movement. Besides your official exercise sessions, you still want to be thinking about moving as much as possible. It’s great for your heart and also keeps your mind clear. Of course it does burn extra calories, and every little bit counts, but the focus here is on good health. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day for good heart health. That is a reachable goal, but one you need to focus on. The first thing you should do is wear your pedometer once during a regular day for you. Don’t add in any extra steps yet. See where you fall. You may find that you are significantly below the 10,000 step recommendation. That’s okay, a lot of people are. That’s what the pedometer is for! So now that you know where you are, it’s time to start increasing your daily movement. If you have a job where you sit a lot, you will really need to work on this. Start by making it a point to get out of your chair every half hour and walking around your office for a few minutes. Or decide that any time you are on the phone, you will stand up and walk around while you are talking. Instead of emailing or messaging a colleague, walk over to their office to tell them in person. These little additions will really add up. Another way to add more steps to your daily total is to park farther away in store parking lots. We all circle around to try to find the closest spot, don’t we? But parking 5 or 10 spots farther away will help you add steps to your daily total. I know this is hard to do in the winter time when it’s cold and snowy, but at least do it when the weather is nice. Finally, the last way you can increase your regular daily movement is when you are at home in the evening watching TV. Tell yourself to get up during every commercial. This is good because I feel like there are more commercials than ever nowadays. Walk up and down the stairs, walk to the bathroom, do a set of jumping jacks, whatever you like. All of these little steps will add up to a big step increase for the day. Again, this will motivate you to keep moving, and even up your goals even more.
Think pedometers are old school? Well, they are, but you can still benefit from using one. Anything that can help organize your goals and motivate you to create new ones is a winner.