Participating in regular physical activity is strongly associated with lowering the risk of:
- Early Death
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Adverse Blood Lipid Profile
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Colon and Breast Cancers
Regular physical activity is also associated with:
- Preventing Weight Gain
- Improved Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness
- Preventing Falls
- Increasing Functional Health (Especially in older adults)
- Reduce Abdominal Obesity
- Helping With Weight Maintenance
- Increasing Bone Density
- Improving Sleep Quality
- Lowering Risks for Lung and Endometrial Cancers
- Increased Physical Energy
- Reducing Physical Stress
Participating in regular physical activity can also:
- Improving Cognitive Function (Especially in older adults)
- Reduce Depression
- Increased Energy and Alertness
- Reducing Mental Stress
Physical Activity Recommendations
To experience the benefits of regular physical activity, you should try to follow or exceed the minimum physical activity recommendations suggested by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Minimum Recommended Physical Activity Guidelines
For Aerobic Activity
150 Minutes per week (Approximately 30 minutes, 5 days per week or 20 minutes, 7 days per week)
75 Minutes per week (Approximately 25 minutes, 3 days per week)
For Muscle Strengthening Activity
Be sure to work all major muscle groups and try to perform 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise
Ideally, a mix of both moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activities should be performed each week, however, if you are unable to perform vigorous activity, only participating in moderate intensity aerobic activity will still provide the same health benefits. Alternatively, if you have limited time during the week and are physically capable of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, only performing vigorous intensity can also provide health benefits.
Strength training can be performed in combination with aerobic activities or on days when you are resting from aerobic activities.
Walking for Physical Activity
Walking is an excellent, low impact form of moderate intensity physical activity that can be performed by most people, almost anywhere, at nearly any time. By walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week you can easily achieve the minimum recommended amount of aerobic activity for adults. Combined with a quality diet and regular muscular strengthening activities, a walking program can help you achieve many of the benefits of physical activity, such as improved health and increased cognitive functioning.
How much should I try to walk each day?
Current recommendations suggest that you try to take at least 10,000 steps per day. Why 10,000 steps? Well, taking 10,000 steps per day is associated with being an active individual, which can provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. This might seem like a lot but in reality 10,000 steps is only about 5 miles total per day. Furthermore, 10,000 steps spread out over a work day (8 hours) is only 1,250 steps per hour, and over the course of an individual’s waking hours (approximately 16) its only 625 steps per hour.
How to walk 10,000 steps per day?
The best way to start walking 10,000 steps per day is to find out how many steps you are currently taking. To do this purchase and use a pedometer (see the pedometer section below about pedometer selection and usage) to track your daily steps. Once you have a baseline count of how many steps you are taking you can make a plan to achieve 10,000 steps. On a weekly basis try to increase your daily step count by 500 steps per day until you reach 10,000 consistently and easily. Slow progressions will promote safe and easy increases to 10,000+ steps.
As with any physical activity program safety is the biggest concern. With a walking program some of the primary safety concerns and precautions are:
Taking small steady progressions, avoid significant changes in activity levels or activity intensities.
Wear proper attire when walking long distances (ie. Comfortable, supportive shoes, comfortable athletic clothing, etc.)
If walking outside, be aware of the weather and your environment.
If you are injured or have medical concerns, consult a doctor before beginning any activity program.
If you become injured as a result of your participation in an activity program, consider seeing a doctor.
Ways to Walk More
If you are having difficulty finding ways to reach 10,000 steps per day consider some of the following suggestions on how to increase the steps you take.
Park your car farther away
Get a dog
Find a walking partner or group
Make more trips to the printer/copier by printing in multiple groups
Schedule a walking time during lunch and stick to it
Walk a lap around your office or building very hour
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Play with your children
Walk to work
Set goals and hold yourself accountable for achieving them
For more information on walking and physical activity please follow the links below.
Using A Pedometer To Track Your Walking Activity
What is a pedometer?
A pedometer is a device that is attached to the waist band of your clothing (pants, shorts, etc.) near your hip and records the number of steps you take when walking, jogging, or running.
Why use a pedometer?
Using a pedometer can help you to track your daily steps, which can identify if you are meeting the basic walking recommendations or need to be more active.
What kind of pedometer should I use?
Most pedometers are essentially the same in function, however the accuracy and features that they may have can differ. A basic pedometer will only count the number of steps you take each day. More advanced pedometers can store daily step total and weekly step totals, have Wi-Fi/Bluetooth capability, and can be much more accurate. Ultimately, a basic pedometer is all you will need to effectively track your daily steps. However, if a more expensive pedometer will provide more incentive for you to participate in regular physical activity then it is well worth your money.
Where can I get a pedometer?
Pedometers can be purchased at any sporting goods store and can be purchased on the internet as well. Costs will vary from depending on quality and features from approximately $5.00 up to $200.00.
How to effectively track your steps?
To effectively track your steps per day and per week record the number of steps you have taken at the end of each day. This will provide you with an accurate record of your walking activity and will also help you to identify your walking habits on a daily and weekly basis. For your convenience a step tracking sheet and a step tracking Excel spread sheet are provided below.