Thursday, June 9, 2011

Walk your way to better health with a pedometer

Walk This Way: Use a Pedometer to Track Your Steps

For many people over 50, exercise is a dirty word, but there’s no denying how beneficial it can be for long-term health. If you don’t care to join a gym, play a sport or invest in exercise equipment, here’s some good news: one of the best exercises around—walking—is “free” and something you already do. You may need to ratchet up your “reps” a bit to get maximum health value, but you already own the equipment you need to get started: your feet.

Not convinced? Maybe the findings of a study published in early 2011 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences will get you off the fence. Psychologists found regular walking can improve memory by expanding the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that starts to atrophy and shrink around age 55 or 60.

That should get you walking! Your initial questions about embarking on walking program will probably be how far you need to go and how to best track your progress. Regarding the former, Lori Michiel, NASM-CPT, president and founder of Fifty Plus Fitness™, suggests 10,000 steps a day.

Lori points out that as you age, your joints tend to tighten up, and if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you’re not doing anything to combat that process. “The motion is the lotion,” she says, noting that exercise helps keep joints lubricated and healthy.

How do you count your steps? A pedometer is a great solution. These handy devices, which clip on to your waistband, range from simple to complex, but their function is the same: keeping count of every step you take. (If you are looking for a pedometer for a wellness program or company promotion, offers a wide selection. We offer them in a variety of styles and price points. Call us at 866-977-7792 or email us for current styles and for our pedometer flyer.)

Once you learn your “baseline,” your routine number of daily steps, you can set goals for yourself to increase that number incrementally. You may even want to keep a chart to track your progress for additional motivation…since you’ll want your step number to be continually rising.

Here are a few other tips from Lori about walking programs:
· Once you’ve settled into your routine, think about adding a cardio component, using lateral movements and/or looking for inclines.
· Schedule daily time for walking like you would any other activity, and think about varying your routes to avoid boredom.
· Wear loose comfortable clothing in bright colors and shoes that provide plenty of support; be measured properly before you purchase footwear.
· It’s important to stay hydrated and be aware of your environment; walk early or late in the day during the hottest weather.
· Find someone to walk with you, so you can provide each other with motivation…but don’t use that person’s absence as a reason not to walk.
· Stretch after your walk; research has shown there’s no need for pre-exercise stretches.

Disclaimer: This information is intended for reference purposes, not as a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to particiapating in any program or activity, its recommended you seek the advice of your physician. This informatin shouldn't be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.