How Can You Boost Your Workout

Fitness Friday. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step, this might be the next step (at least for walkers).  Last month, I discussed walking as one of the easiest and most reliable forms of physical activity to incorporate into a fitness lifestyle.  Another key to staying active is setting goals and staying motivated.  Pedometers (digital devices that count steps) are excellent devices for reaching fitness goals in aerobic (or cardio) activity*. Yet, it wasn’t until recently (November 2007) that scientist conducted the research that proves this.  The physician Dena Bravata led a group of Stanford University scientists in a systemic review of studies that used pedometers to increase physical activity and ultimately improve health.  In their research, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they concluded that pedometer usage combined with specific goal setting and exercise logs resulted in significant increases in physical activity.  Previously sedentary patients increased their physical activity by nearly an additional mile of walking per day.  More importantly, they found a significant reduction in blood pressure.  A reduction associated with decreasing the risk of stroke in middle-aged patients in previous studies.

The best way to add a pedometer to your walking program is to first count, then assess, your daily steps after one full week of use to establish your baseline.  You then increase that number incrementally. For many of us,10,000 steps a day (roughly the equivalent of 5 miles) is a lofty goal.  You might enjoy The 20% Boost Program at pbs.org because it helps you gradually build up from your baseline.  A pedometer when combined with goal-setting is an easy way to track your progress and also motivate you to stay active on a given day until you’ve met your goal.  Dr. Bravata and her colleges concluded:

“Despite the abundance of lay literature on the use of pedometers, our study is the first published synthesis of the evidence. Our results suggest that the use of these small, relatively inexpensive devices is associated with significant increases in physical activity and improvements in some key health outcomes, at least in the short term. The extent to which these results are durable over the long term is unknown.”walk

Who among you uses exercise logs or diaries?  How do logs and goal-setting help you get the most out of your walking workout?  Leave me a comment sharing the ways you’ve discovered to get an urban (or suburban) aerobics workout.  The best comment will win a pedometer. (Comments will close on Friday, April 3.)

*Note:  The American College of Sports Medicine and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans each advise adults to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity no less than 5 days of the week

Sources:

Bravata, D.M., Smith-Spangler, C. et al. Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health:  A Systematic Review [Electronic Version]. JAMA. 2007;298(19):2296-2304. Available at <http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/298/19/2296#AUTHINFO&gt;

The 20% Boost Program: Fit Walking into Your Life.  In America’s Walking: Personal Health & Fitness.  Cited March 27, 2009.  Available at <http://www.pbs.org/americaswalking/health/health20percentboost.html&gt;

Chapter 4:  Active Adults. In Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans [Electronic Version]. Cited March 27, 2009.  Available at  <http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx&gt;

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Comments
3 Responses to “How Can You Boost Your Workout”
  1. Auntie E says:

    I use to keep a log of my walks on my calender. Recently purchased a Walkfit- Preloaded, digital walkman. It has 3 different time music workouts loaded. 35,45,55 minute. Paced to help achieve the ultimate workout. When I kept a log I started to see my time increase. Causing me to walk more. The music make the walks go faster. the logging validates the progress. Before you know it the walks will get longer and one will get fitter. I do not use a pedometer because it did not seem to register right. Maybe I just had a bad type. Walking in the neighborhood is so much better do to the hills and valleys. A treadmill,which I have, is very limited and just plain boring. Track walking drives me nuts, going around in circles and having runners passing me by. I will start keeping a walking journal again. Now with better weather I can get out more.

    • the Health Advocate says:

      The spring really seems an ideal time for walking (not too hot or cold) and walking in the neighborhood or park is so much better than the track or treadmill. Sometimes it can be difficult to calibrate your step length so that a pedometer correctly registers the number of steps you take. Hopefully you won’t have that problem in the future.

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