With all the activity trackers out there, I think it’s safe to say that most people know it’s important to get your steps in each and every day. The surgeon general recommends you strive for 10,000 steps per day to maintain a healthy fitness level. That equals about five miles a day. This is also approximately the equivalent to 30 minutes of physical activity.
If you can get 30 minutes of a cardio workout in, that’s great but it won’t negate the ill effects of inactivity the rest of the day. The activity you perform outside your workouts is referred to as NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. How much movement and calories you burn throughout the day has a huge impact on your weight loss efforts. If you are fitting in your 30 minutes of a workout but sit at a desk all day, this could be the reason you aren’t getting results. Of course a lot of factors go into why you are or are not getting results, but this is a big one. You’ve got to get up and get moving.
Movement does more than just help you lose weight, it’s important for maintaining strong bones, keeping your joints lubricated, and even helping you to keep a clear mind.
Although 10,000 steps a day is a great goal, especially if you are only getting 5,000 steps currently, this amount of activity is recommended for maintaining your current level of fitness. If you want to lose weight, you will need at least 13,000 - 15,000 steps per day. I know, seems daunting doesn’t it?
how do you get all these steps into a day?
First, you need to determine how many steps you actually do take during the course of a normal day. Purchase a pedometer or a fitness tracker (I highly recommend FitBit) and track the number of steps you take each day for one week. At the end of the week, determine your average number of steps per day and then add 20% more to that total. For instance, if you average 7,000 steps per day, add 1,400 steps to equal 8,400. You now have your first daily goal. Once you reach that goal, add another 20% and continue to do this weekly until you're up to 15,000 steps per day.
You may be surprised at how little activity you typically get in a day. Did you know a sedentary person only gets in about 1,000 – 3,000 steps? If this is you, don’t despair. Even if you take only a few steps a day, there are many ways to increase your steps. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Get creative; you’ll be feeling more energetic and looking leaner before you know it. The more you move about, the more you’re going to want to move. And it will help to keep you moving freely without aches and pains, as you get older.
Another way to keep yourself moving is to hang out with other people who like to be active. Join a local meet up group that goes for hikes or join an online support group. I just happen to have one you’d really like: Weight Loss After 50. You’ll find lots of support, guidance and answers to all your health and fitness questions.
In the comments below tell me what you do to get your steps in.
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.