Time to start walking off those holiday calories -- and, in my case, those six additional pounds I picked up with the munchies that replaced my cigarette habit two years ago. Could be worse, but on the other hand, I wasn't exactly a beanpole when I stopped. For me, it's pretty simple -- walk at least 45 minutes a day, or gain weight. Walk more than 45 minutes a day, and lose weight. It's as simple as that (plus, of course, cutting down on the trips to the snack machine at the same time). It's time to start taking it off again, even if the approach of winter makes me want to curl up in bed and pull the blanket over my head.
Some people find a mechanical aid like a pedometer a useful motivator. It doesn't do much for me (I've tried, and for me, the total number of steps is irrelevant -- I already know what I need to do), but if you're interested, the NYT health blog had an interesting discussion of pedometers the other day, especially in the comments, where readers talked about their experience with different kinds of pedometers. It seems that 10,000 steps per day is the magic number.
In a review of more than two dozen studies, researchers at Stanford University found that people who used pedometers to monitor their daily activity walked about 2,000 more steps every day, or about one extra mile, compared to those who weren’t counting steps. People who used pedometers also showed statistically meaningful drops in body mass index and blood pressure.If worrying about weight isn't your thing, there's another reason to get up off your duff. A growing body of research shows that vigorous exercise like brisk walking slows cognitive decline with aging, reduces Alzheimer's risk and promotes the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, which governs short-term memory.
Once pedometers were used primarily to map distances during exercise. Now health experts are advising people to wear the devices daily in order to monitor all their steps, including the most routine ones, like those taken while walking to the car. National fitness programs encourage people to take at least 10,000 steps a day.