Over the past three years, there is something I wear on my body at all times that has become almost as essential as my wedding ring. If only my husband would have known 25 years ago that I’d cherish a rubber step tracker almost as much as diamonds. He would have saved himself several thousands of dollars! I admit I didn’t see this one coming. I’m obsessed with my Fitbit and steps, although you’d think I’d be “Slim-Gym Sally” with as many miles as I have walked—over 4,000 since I started wearing my device. That is a lot of steps (if I might say so myself)!
So, even though I’m not in the “walked myself skinny club” (yet)—I do see the benefits of wearing a step tracker. As I mentioned, my tracker of choice is the Fitbit. I tried to trade it in for an Apple Watch last month and promptly took it back for a refund. It looked even less fashionable that the Fitbit, and that is hard to do. Add on the high price and my sad, aging eyes inability to read the tiny screen’s data and the Fitbit wins.
Last October, PriceWaterhouseCooper’s health research institute released a study that said one in five Americans owned a wearable device—about the same percentage of people that owned tablets back in 2012. But, are there really benefits to wearing the devices? Are people more fit? Do you need to walk 10,000 steps a day to realize any benefits? Those are just few of the common questions I get when people notice my glamorous rubber device.
Almost every recent, credible study I could find suggests that people who increase their walking to 10,000 steps daily do experience health benefits. One study found that women who increase their step count to nearly 10,000 steps a day reduced their blood pressure after 24 weeks. This is one of the major benefits I’ve personally experienced. My blood pressure hovers at a normal level when I’m walking consistently. Another study of overweight women found that walking 10,000 steps a day improved their glucose levels. True for me, too.
Walking 10,000 steps a day is not an official recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, the agency recommends adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as brisk walking. To meet the CDC’s recommendation, you need to walk about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day. If you normally walk about 5,000 steps a day, getting in an extra 30-minute, brisk walk into your day would take you to about 8,000 steps. The average U.S. adult walks about 5,900 steps daily. Still, there’s no reason to stop at 8,000 steps if you can do more. More is always better
The Mayo Clinic recommends that people using pedometers first set short-term goals, such as taking extra 1,000 steps daily for one week, and then build up to a long-term goal such as 10,000 steps. I’m up to an average of 13,000 a day and have become so committed to staying at this level that I often walk laps around the inside of my house. Of course, I do this with much haranguing from my family. They think I’m crazy. I probably am, but I also know how good I feel when I hit 13,000–sometimes 15,000 steps. And, I also know how crappy I feel when I don’t get there.
Is a step tracker for everyone? Absolutely, not. But, for someone like me who needs daily accountability and motivation—it’s the perfect compliment to my fitness regimen. Like my wedding ring (and, maybe even my husband)…I can’t imagine life without it.
Walk more! Steph