The biggest loser star, Jillian Michaels was in San Jose on April 12th speaking on her “Maximize your Life” tour.  She emphasizes how important it is to set a goal.  Setting a fitness goal is easy, “I want to increase my endurance, I want a stronger upper body, I want to lose 10 pounds, …”  But, how do we map a road to success?   We live in a technological age of ‘gadgets’ that can measure our steps, our calories expended, the stairs we climb and yes, even our sleep.

SkyWhat we can measure, we can manage; we can modify our behavior based on the information we glean.  We can successfully set and execute a goal.  “In a 2007 analysis of several studies, people who used pedometers increased the number of steps taken by an average 2,491 a day and boosted overall physical activity by about 27% from previous levels”, cited in the Wall Street Journal article, “Hard Math: Adding up Just How Little We Actually Move” written by Sumath Reddy.      Reddy goes on to say, “Americans on average take 5,117 steps a day, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

A good daily goal, by contrast, is 10,000 steps, according to the American Heart Association.   “Walking a mile roughly equals 2,000 steps; climbing 10 steps is equivalent to taking 38 steps on level ground.”  We can do this easily by parking our car a few blocks away from our destination.  One of my clients walks to work two days a week instead of driving to improve his numbers.  Simple shifts in patterns can result in the addition of those extra steps we need to meet this health standard of fitness.  Even today on NPR a new story, “How Exercise And Other Activities Beat Back Dementia”  by Patti Neighmond of highly functioning ’80 somethings’ discovered that exercise is number one in keeping our brains healthy.  Walking tones our internal organs and forces us to breathe more fully thereby getting more oxygen into our healthy cells and our brains.  In Ms. Reddy’s article she cites another study,  “Dr. Bassett says a doctoral student in his department conducted a study in which 58 people watching 90 minutes of television marched in place in front of the TV during commercial breaks.  “They increased their steps by about 3,000 per day just by doing this during commercials,” says Dr. Bassett, “That’s equivalent to about 30 minutes of walking.”  The study was published last year in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.”

fitbit

I have mentioned in previous blogs that I use both a heart rate monitor and a Fitbit pedometer.  I park my car to walk a round-trip of 6 city blocks to teach a yoga class in which I do not participate; I walk around the room giving instructions.  According to my Fitbit I burn 737 kcal from start to finish.  I take 2836 steps in this time period; 3 of those blocks are up hill?  I have successfully quantified a routine activity.

When I suggest a pedometer to clients, I hear the usual, “I walk around quite a bit during the day.”  Still the question remains, exactly how many steps and how close is this total to the desired 10,000 steps for health standards?  Using a pedometer such as the Fitbit, the Nike Fuel Band or the the Jawbone UP  device make it easy and fun.  You will receive weekly reports, can keep track of your calories eaten by entering your daily food consumption and as I mentioned, even track your sleep.  The Jawbone UP can be programed to vibrate when you have been sedentary for a preferred amount of time, such as 30 – 60 minutes.  You can then at least get up and move around before heading back to the desk and the world of your mind.

StepsMy fitbit gives me little messages:  “Way to Go Laura!”  “Bravo!” “Keep Moving!”  These messages are endearing.  On the website you are able to set up a group so that you can track and support each other’s progress.  Buddy systems are known to reinforce our fitness goals.

On the down side, some people don’t like having any electronics on their person.  Or, some will find keeping track of the device can be challenging.  I have heard stories of Fitbits slipping into the toilet or still attached to a garment landing in the washing machine.  At a $100 a pop that can get expensive.  The wristband is a simple solution since it is not attached to clothing.  We are fortunate to have these products and their website support on our ever present  journey to health and fitness, one of our most important investments.

Whispers of the Breath Diva:

real face.2

“In this Moment I can design my lifestyle.

I am the author of my life!  I am fit.  I am healthy!”


 

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