Exercise doesn’t have to require an expensive membership to a gym or even large chunks of time set aside to work out. In fact, the most realistic form of exercise is something you already do every day: walking.
This week your goal is to walk more. Strap on a pedometer, which research shows can help you increase your physical activity by 25 percent on average. Pedometers serve as a physical reminder to get moving, but you’ll need to do more than just put one on. Resolve to reach 10,000 steps per day. Each 2,000 steps you take burns about 100 calories. Don’t worry if you log only 2,000 steps on the first day. Work to increase your steps gradually, as you get comfortable with the distance. For example, you can aim to walk an additional 100 to 200 steps per day until you are at or beyond 10,000 steps daily. Walking 10,000 steps is equivalent to about 5 miles (a total burn of about 500 calories!).
You can pick up a pedometer for $20 or less at many sporting goods stores and mass retailers. Next, follow these guidelines to make sure you’re getting an accurate step read:
Tip #1: Play with the position
Where you place the pedometer is important. Attach it to your waistband or belt, directly in line with your kneecap.
Tip #2: Check for accuracy
To test your pedometer, set the unit to zero and take 50 steps. See if the number on the readout matches the count. If the count is off by more than five steps in either direction, adjust the placement of your pedometer, making sure it’s upright and sits close to your skin. Take another 50 steps to test it again.
Tip #3: Start out small
You’re more likely to keep walking in the long run if you begin with an achievable goal. Look for simple opportunities to take more steps, such as bringing the grocery cart back into the store or printing to a printer that’s farther away from your desk at work.
- This week's assignment: Wear a pedometer, keep a log of your daily steps and gradually work toward taking 10,000 steps or more per day. E-mail your step log to firstname.lastname@example.org at the end of the week. Continue to keep a daily step log, because you will need it on week 12 of this diet. (Don’t forget to keep your focus on real foods, eating three 400-calorie meals and two 150-calorie snacks a day.)