I’m going to let you in on a health and weigh loss secret. And unlike other sites that promise you that, but then require you to buy a book or sign up for a program before they reveal the secret, I’m really just going to tell you. The easiest, PROVEN strategy for increasing your activity level and losing weight is to wear a pedometer and have a daily step goal.
You don’t have to take my word for it. People much smarter than me who study human health for a living are the source of this information. The academic health gurus from Harvard and Stanford tell us that people who wear pedometers are 27% more active than those who don’t wear them (click here to go to the original article). And for those of you who are certain you will just eat more if you increase your activity thereby negating any weight-loss benefits, a meta-analysis of nine pedometer studies indicates you’re wrong. Those researchers found that pedometer-based walking programs do, in fact, lead to weight loss (click here if you want to check my facts) and the longer you stick with it, the more weight you will lose.
Considering I have seen pedometers in the dollar bin at Target before, cost should not be a barrier to you enjoying the benefits of this super easy fitness trick. Having purchased the $1 version though, I will tell you that if you can afford it you should spend the little bit extra to get one that is reliable ($20-$25). Here is a popular and pretty reliable one. After you’ve tried the cheaper ones and realize how much this tiny little gadget impacts your activity level, you may want to “step” up (couldn’t resist!) to a deluxe version that will give you feedback on more than just steps and provide you with other forms of motivation.
I asked for an upgrade for Christmas and my hubby bought me the Fitbit One. This little gizmo not only tracks by steps, but also floors climbed, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep efficiency and assigns me an active score. The best feature though, is that it motivates me with little words of encouragement (this morning my display said “Corinne Rocks!”). And it will send you e-mails and iPhone alerts letting you know when you are near a goal or if you have met one. For my fellow nerds, you can access all this information online or via your iPhone and admire the charts, graphs, and accomplishment badges. If you can talk people you know into getting Fitbits, you can “friend” them via the app or website and compete against them each week. I hit 25,000 steps the day my friend bought hers. By the way, they aren’t paying me to say this, I just really love my Fitbit. Here is mine and here is the one my friend got. Maybe if you tell all your friends to read my website, this glowing review will get back to Fitbit and they will send me free stuff to giveaway to my readers.
Regardless of the pedometer you choose to use, by simply clipping it on or putting it in your pocket each day you will definitely increase your activity. Your goal should be a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. I’m not going to link all of the supporting research for this recommendation because it’s pretty widely acknowledged, but if you’re a real doubter just google “recommended daily steps.” If weight loss is your goal, you may want to aim higher (i.e. 12,000-15,000 steps/day).
In addition to weight loss, another benefit of wearing a pedometer is that you will inadvertently become more helpful. My friend (the one who also has the Fitbit) and I fight over who gets to return the shopping cart to the cart return because whoever does gets more steps. You will eagerly volunteer to dash upstairs and get your husband’s wallet that he forgot on the nightstand because you get more steps! Volunteering at the school, you’re the first person to offer to walk items back to the classrooms or lunchroom because you’ll get more steps. Everybody thinks you are super helpful and really you’re just trying to earn the right to sit down to watch Modern Family later that night rather than marching in place in front of the television. Improved health, smaller waistline, enhanced reputation, greater productivity—unless you hate happiness, you really need to get a pedometer.