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Walk Your Way to Heart Health: The Power of the Pedometer

September 26, 2013

Over the summer, this article rocked the health community and made us all quickly jump up from our chairs. “Sitting is the New Smoking” the headline proclaimed, but it wasn’t just calling out those of us who rarely find time to exercise between our nine-to-five desk jobs. This article was published in Runner’s World, which likely has a readership with a fairly active lifestyle. Yet, the article suggested that even exercising regularly wasn’t enough to combat the dangerous side effects of sitting still for long periods of time.

walk your way to heart healthThe key to moving more throughout the day might be as simple as clipping something on your belt buckle: a pedometer. A relatively inexpensive piece of exercise equipment compared to most, pedometers works to count your steps throughout the day. More advanced models will also track flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, even the restfulness of your sleep. And yes, there are even apps to turn your mobile device into a pedometer. But does counting your steps really making a difference?

Studies say yes. The Harvard Health Letter used a summary of 26 different studies to determine that pedometers encouraged wearers to increase their walking by at least 2,000 steps compared to non-wearers. What the studies don’t explain is why this is the case. Perhaps it’s the awareness of how little or much you might be moving; perhaps it’s a challenge to your competitive side. Regardless, if you’re looking to motivate yourself to move more throughout the day, a pedometer might just do the trick.

After all, The American Heart Association even recommends walking just as much (if not more!) than running for lowering your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. With a daily goal of 10,000 steps (about five miles, depending on your stride), using a pedometer can help you determine how your activity level measures up.

We know it isn’t always easy to make time for a long walk or trip to the gym though, so here are three quick tips to add a few extra steps into your day:

  1. If you have a sedentary office job, try taking a lap of the office once every hour to avoid sitting for too long and tack an extra 100 or 200 steps onto your daily tally.
  2. Park in the back of parking lots even if there are closer spots available.
  3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

Tell us: are you a pedometer wearer?

Physical Activity Guidelines