Two Tips for Walkers Who Want to Lose Weight

Walk this Way to Lose More Weight

If you’re here you’re probably wondering how to make the most out of your daily walks when you’re trying to lose weight. I do have a few tips to share with you that will help you burn up to 30% more calories and take off more weight for every step taken.

First of all you can’t just stroll along for an hour and consider that walk a fat burning exercise. You will need to walk on an incline, include stairs in your routine and/or walk at a safe clip on a decline as well. Simply walking on flat terrain is alright for long term weight loss when you are incorporating walking into your daily fitness routine, but it won’t do you much good for fast and lasting weight loss.

If you are walking in your home (for instance while watching your favorite television show every night) you will want to consider purchasing a treadmill that has an incline adjust feature. Set it to a 10 or 15 degree incline and test it out for a few weeks. I think you’ll notice a difference. Not only will you be getting all the regular benefits of walking but you will also see the excess pounds leaving your body.

Another great tip when walking as a weight loss exercise is to breathe deeply during the duration of your walk. The more oxygen you inhale, the more calories you burn. This won’t be helpful if you are buddying up with a friend on your daily walks (and if your friend likes to chat) but whenever you walk alone or walk the dog, take deep breaths like this: take a deep breath for 5 seconds, then hold it for 5 seconds, and then exhale for 5 seconds. That’s all there is to it. If you have a pedometer that also has a stop watch feature or a timer, use it to keep track of the number of minutes on your walk you can sustain deep breathing. (If you start to feel light headed then work at it until you can build up to 5-5-5. Nothing more dangerous than a fast walker who is dizzy!)

Try these two tips for the next week and chart your progress on your bathroom scale. I am sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Questions About Metabolism

The Connection between metabolism, fat cells, calories and exercising.Since I started writing about metabolic rates and personal metabolism, I’ve been fielding quite a few questions from my readers.

As such I’ve decided to take a break from some of my other publishing dates and write a few articles to help you understand your metabolism better and how to work with it to change your overall health.

Metabolism is the word used to describe the process your body goes through to transform food into fuel. What it does with that fuel is a direct result of how you look today.

If you are carrying a few extra pounds this might cause you to shake your fist at your metabolism, especially so if you once had a healthy or fast metabolism in your youth but now find that it has defied you and slowed down. Before you wage war with it please understand that if you had no metabolism you wouldn’t be able to move, read this article, or click a mouse button.

In fact, nearly everything your body does on auto-pilot such as circulating blood, transforming oxygen into carbon dioxide, expelling lethal toxins through your kidneys depend on your metabolism. Given all that you have no choice but to love and appreciate it, but what of the extra pounds?

First of all stop thinking of it as some single-function fuel or fat burner. Your metabolism is at work in your body every second of every minute of every day of your life making numerous chemical conversions (also referred to as ‘metabolic functions’).

Your metabolism is a constant process that works in two seemingly opposite ways: anabolism uses energy to create cells, and catabolism breaks down cells to create energy.

Anabolism and Catabolism

Your body is continually creating new cells to replace dead or dysfunctional cells. As an example, should you cut your finger, your body instantly begins the process of creating new skin cells to clot the blood and start healing the wound. This creation process is a metabolic response. You will hear myself and others discuss it as ‘anabolism’.

Since there is always an opposite action for every bodily action or function, we have ‘catabolism’. Instead of building new cells and tissue this function breaks down energy. An example of this would be while you’re walking or exercising, your body temperature rises and your heart beat increases. Due to the increase your body will need more oxygen and so your breathing will increase naturally. If your body couldn’t adjust to this increased requirement of oxygen, you would collapse. These increases require additional resources which is carried out as converting your fuel into energy. That is the metabolic process named catabolism.

Metabolism is actually a harmonizer. Bringing together two seemingly opposite functions (anabolism and catabolism) in the best way for your body to create cells as needed, and break them down again when required.

Make sense?

Good. Let’s talk then about how your metabolism affects weight gain or loss…

Metabolism and Weight Loss

Everyone knows about calories. Counting calories going into our bodies and, if you have a pedometer that measures it, counting calories burned for steps throughout the day. Calories are simply units of measure, nothing more. They are a measure of energy.

Your body creates energy from the food you eat. It creates energy from fruits and vegetables using the same process that it uses to create energy from chocolate bars and candy.

While you know it’s better for your body to get energy from fruit and vegetables, your body doesn’t stop to evaluate the food. It will simply create energy from whatever you eat.

Although it may sound strange at first, your body really doesn’t care what you feed it in the sense of creating energy. To the body, energy is just energy. It will take whatever you feed it. It doesn’t know that some foods are healthier than others. It is rather like a garbage disposal in this manner: it will take what you put into it, whether it should or not.

So here’s what happens…When your body receives a calorie it must do something with that energy. As an example, if a broccoli spear delivers 100 calories, the body has to accept those 100 calories. The same goes for 600 calories from a chocolate bar or energy drink.

Then, your body will do one of two things to the energy. It will either metabolizes it via anabolism, or metabolize it via catabolism. That is, it will either convert the energy (calories) into cells/tissue, or it will use that energy (calories) to break down cells.

When there is an excess of energy, and the body can’t use this energy to deal with any needs at the time, it will be forced to create cells with the extra energy. It has to do something with the energy after all, especially if you aren’t putting it to use.

And those extra cells? Yup, you guessed it: added weight.

In a nutshell, the whole calorie/metabolism/weight gain thing is really just about excess energy. When there are too many calories in the body, they are transformed into fat.

Here’s the clincher though, and this is very important to understand, especially if you are walking, exercising or burning excess calories in some way. Sometimes the extra calories get transformed into muscle. And…since muscles require calories to simply maintain their mass, people with strong muscle tone burn calories without actually, physically, doing anything. The metabolism burns it for them.

That is why you want to get, build, tone, create as much lean muscle on your body as possible and in the shortest, healthiest, amount of time. Muscle ‘ownership’ boosts your metabolism. The more lean muscle you have, the lower the risk of excess calories being transformed into fat.

Now that you understand the basics of metabolism, muscles, energy and fuel, we can discuss how to use your specific metabolic rate – at any age – to help rid you of those extra pounds. Before you go however I have one more point to share. You may have heard that fat cells are permanent. I wish I could tell you that it isn’t true! Most health and diet experts agree that once fat cells have been created, they’re permanent. But don’t let this stop you on your trek back to health and fitness. Even though experts believe that fat cells are permanent, they also agree that fat cells can be shrunk. Therefore, even if the number of fat cells in your body remains the same, their size, appearance and percentage of your overall weight, can be reduced.

Weight Loss Is Just A Walk Away

Walking for Weight LossWalking – one of the simplest exercises – is also one of the best exercises you can do to achieve weight loss.

If you’re just starting to consider getting in shape, losing some weight, and taking charge of your health, walking is a great way to kick off your planned program. Regardless of age, regardless of current physical condition, nearly everyone can walk off the weight – even if just at the beginning of a full blown, back to health, program.

Whenever you embark on any new exercise program you’ll first want to check in with your doctor to inform him or her about your plans. Your doctor may have some helpful tips and guidelines based on your current state of fitness, your age, or any illnesses you may have. Either way – whether you go to the doctor or not – it is always a good idea to take it slow to start.

To begin a new walking program you’ll want to first get a pedometer so you can track your progress. You don’t need anything fancy to get started but having a heart rate monitor and the ability to upload your daily steps to your computer via USB cable are two nice features I couldn’t do without. You’ll also want a pair of comfortable and supportive walking shoes.

Begin by going for a 10 minute walk 3 times a week. Although this may sound overly cautious, it is the safest way to begin any new weight loss program. Now that you have started your new walking program and you have made a commitment to yourself to stick with it, start adding 10 more minutes to each walk every week. Should you experience difficultly breathing do not become discouraged, just walk a little slower until your heart and lung function catch up to your journey into better health. Again, it may be prudent to check back in with your doctor.

Within the month of your new walking program you will begin to see your hard work pay off. You will have more energy and your clothes will start fitting much looser. With just a 30 minute walk every day you should also be experiencing:

  • See an increase in your overall fitness level.

  • Notice changes in the tone of your muscles.
  • Feel better and look better.
  • Discover an increase in energy levels.
  • Feel less stressed.
  • Get better nights sleep.
  • Be in a better mood and less prone to depression.
  • Notice a difference on the scale.
  • Find that muscles, joints and bones are stronger.

There are many benefits to a walking program! As you can see it leads to much more than just weight loss. The longer you stick with the program, the easier it becomes. Before you know it you’ll be just like me and have developed a new, positive, lifelong habit.

Walking Regularly But Not Losing Weight?

Recent research suggests that most walking programs will have minimal effect on weight loss all due to lack of consideration of metabolism. How can this be so when thousands of people every moment are initiating daily walks into their already busy schedules to help them get or stay fit?

The primary reason that research of walking programs don’t show evidence of weight loss or an increase in health is that ‘on the books’ the number of calories burned off during a walk is relatively small in comparison to other workout programs. As an example, a two mile brisk walk burns only 90 more calories than staying at home. Ninety calories equates to the caloric value of a low-sodium, low-calorie bowl of chicken soup.

Furthermore it would take nearly three months of a regular walking routine of three brisk walks a week to lose roughly 500 grams of fat.

Research also suggests that “a lack of time” is given as the most popular excuse for not exercising, and that it becomes quite unlikely that people would be able to find time three days per week for a walk.

With all that said you’re probably wondering what then, is the best method of exercise for weight loss.

If so, there are more factors to consider than just the exercise you’re considering. You must factor in your age as well as your lifestyle and learn at least a little about human metabolism. You see, after age 30 we all lose between 200-300 grams of muscle tissue per year – this causes our metabolism to slow down. When your metabolism slows, excess body fat accumulates where the lost muscle tissue once was. Considering that almost all body fat and dietary fats are burned within muscle tissue you can see how this becomes a downhill problem and an uphill battle as the years go on.

To reverse this natural function, you might consider adding some strength training exercises (to rebuild some of that lost muscle tissue) to increase your fat burning engine – your metabolism – capability.

Here’s where this gets really interesting…once you have regained some of your health and fitness level again, research proves that up to 44% more body fat can be lost when a strength training program is implemented – in comparison to no change in your physical routines but only restricting caloric intake (a diet).

All things considered it is muscle that is the secret weapon to fighting fat. Muscle mass burns fat, increases metabolism, improves the shape of your body and gives you more strength. With more muscle tissue and less fat on your body, you will have a slim and sculpted physique. You will find it is easier to stay slim and look younger as well. Research again proves that a fit body gives the appearance of youth and can shave years off your true age.

So while you’re walking, or in conjunction with your walking program, consider every muscle and consider different ways to increase your muscle mass. Muscles hold the key, the secret to your metabolism and burn that fat throughout your body. By flexing your muscles you are kicking your metabolism into gear and the effects are longer lasting than just the workout time. You will continue, over time, to burn a higher amount of fat all day long.

Here’s another benefit to building muscles that not too many people talk about…the more muscle you have the more you increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Insulin greatly enhances your ability to lose weight. Many of our nation’s overweight are moderately to highly insulin-resistant as long as they are lacking in muscle tissue. Two to three strength training sessions per week are all it would take to correct this resistance and begin the fat burning process. Plus, with a higher metabolic rate you will be able to consume more calories throughout the day while losing weight and without any fad diets.

A Custom Walk-for-Weight-Loss Program

Walking Program - Trails and BoardwalksWinter, spring, summer or fall – it doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, there always seems to be a few pounds we’d love to lose. In the spring, there seems to be more – especially when we’re pulling out our summer wardrobe.

So let’s get walking shall we? Somewhere in your drawers you probably have a pedometer. If you don’t have a feature rich one like my favorites (below and at right) then you’ve at least got an application on your phone or MP3 player that will do for now. However, how do you plan a custom program to drop the pounds while walking?

I’m hoping this article will get you started.

Although walking will help you with weight loss to get the most out of it you’ll want to walk long enough to burn calories, tighten muscles and increase your metabolism.

To begin focus on steps taken (distance) before you focus on aerobic or heart rate (speed). You want to ease yourself back into fitness and not burn out before re-establishing good habits, routine and form.

And don’t worry about not getting enough effect for the time you’re investing early on in your program. You can burn nearly the same amount of calories with a long, slow walk as you can with a short, fast walk. It is all about consistency of the day at any stage of your program. For instance, there will be some days that you want to take a long and leisurely walk (think Saturday mornings on the beach boardwalk). While on other days you may want to power walk, burn up a lot of energy and calories, and really get your heart pumping and your metabolism in full swing (think of early morning walks before an intense staff meeting at the office).

The intensity or lack of isn’t really what matters when you’re just starting out as long as you are happy and comfortable and consistently getting out there. Make a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 to 60 minutes per day, your focus and let your energy level determine intensity of the day.

A word or two about the ‘stroll’. For maximum health, weight and cardiovascular benefits, you will want to make sure that you are walking quickly enough to increase your heart rate for the majority of the walk, so when I say ‘stroll’ I really mean something just a little under a power walk. The experts will tell you that for weight loss you should be walking 30 to 60 minutes at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate once your fitness level demands it.

Once you have established a routine of 5 days per week you might want to increase your pace, change your route, add some ankle or wrist weights, or change your walking style (see my previous article for walking ‘tricks’ to keep you motivated).

A Walking Program With Man’s (and Women’s too) Best Friend

Walking With Dogs
Start with a simple walk and work up to excellent health.

Don’t wait for your pedometer to arrive in the mail, start a walking program today. It will warm you up to more brisk walks once your pedometer has arrived and it is one of the safest exercises you can do for your heart – not to mention lessen the risks of breast cancer and diabetes.

If you have a dog a daily walk or two is a great way to warm both of you up to more brisk and beneficial walking next week. Plus, you’re doing something wonderful with your pet as they need exercise too.

Even if your dog is a little lazy and overweight I’m willing to bet that by the time you strap on your pedometer and get set for a faster pace walk your dog will already be showing the signs of health. I’ve seen it first hand. A friend of mine had an aging and overweight dog that she loved dearly. She had no trouble going out the door with me the first few times but by the second week of daily walks she was dragging her paws. On the third week of walking she was excited again as the exercise had already made some positive changes to her weight, her endurance and her breathing. Funny how they can be so much like the humans who love them.

Whenever I take an overweight dog for the first week of daily walks we take it easy. At the start of week two I begin to step it up – probably why they decide they don’t want to go for walks at first! But by the third week as they realize they are feeling better, their metabolic rate has increased and the brisk walk isn’t such a huge challenge – I can often get them into a light jog.

Some important considerations to take for both you and your dog are to ensure the leash is long enough that you aren’t bent over while walking the dog, but not too long that your dog can get tied up in your feet. If your pet has not been trained to heel the first week of casual walking is a good match for training – after that you should have made a great walking companion. By the time you move into your third week you’ll be able to bend your arms at the elbow and pump yourself along for a cardiovascular boost.

Here are a few of my other walking ‘tricks’:

  1. Flex! Flex your stomach muscles while walking a few seconds at a time. You’re toning your abs while you walk.
  2. Flex! (again) Your buttock muscles as you walk. Every step you take should be a conscious movement from the ball of your foot to the top of your waist. With practice you’ll feel the flex and in no time at all you’ll have the shapely butt of an athlete.
  3. Work your thigh muscles! Plan at least one walk a week that includes a steep hill or a large flight of stairs. Going up and going down both will do your thighs good.
  4. Stay motivated! Don’t let yourself get bored of walking the same block, the same city street, the same route every night. Once you’ve been walking with a pedometer for exercise for a while it is so easy to get bored. Drive to the park, take your MP3 player with you, walk backwards for part of the route, walk home from work or park a mile away, and take walking vacations. More on those on a later post, but suffice it to say you will love some of the fabulous places I’ve visited as part of a walking tour and am ready to share with you now.
  5. Spoil yourself with good gear! Get the best pedometer you can afford and learn how to use all the functions. Fitness now becomes a part of your daily life and you’ll live longer for it. Subscribe to a walking or fitness magazine and buy well-fitting, athletic footwear.
  6. Drink! Stay hydrated. Bring along a water bottle.

More Walking Program Articles can be found here on Pedometers.org!

Get, and Keep, Walking Every Day

Walking Every Day for Fitness
Walk every day, in all kinds of weather, to increase your health and maintain (or lose) weight. It doesn't always need to be a power walk - even a stroll in the park with a friend is beneficial.

“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”

I’m not sure who coined that phrase but it is one of my favorites when I’m lacking in motivation. This is especially true when it comes to good health and personal fitness and the phrase motivates me every day to strap on my pedometer and get out there for a walk.

You see really, when it comes right down to it, the exercise we do today determines what we can or cannot do in the future. How hard we push ourselves this week will determine how good we look next week. However, it is important to remember that personal health and fitness needn’t be an all encompassing lifestyle. Make it a part of who you are and what you do. You don’t need to be a guru or a fitness expert to reap the rewards and you don’t need to knock yourself out.

While some may think that exercise and fitness needs to be hard, challenging or even painful, this needn’t be the case. Many trainers and fitness experts having written numerous studies on aerobic exercise and suggest that walking for just 30 minutes per day is sufficient to maintain a higher level of health and increase your life span.

Walking? Yes, walking. It isn’t particularly challenging – although you can make it so – and it doesn’t require a lot of money to get started. You really just need some comfortable and supportive shoes, motivation, and an accurate pedometer to chart your progress.

For your efforts you will reap the rewards of:

  • a reduction in body fat
  • lower your cholesterol levels
  • an increase in cardiovascular endurance
  • lower blood pressure
  • a strengthened immune system
  • a consistent weight range
  • higher bone density
  • lessened risks for colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease
  • plus much more.

How to Get Started

Here’s all you really need:

  • comfortable shoes (preferably designed for fitness walking)
  • a walking journal or notepad to record your progress
  • a step counter or pedometer
  • 5 minutes to warm up and 30 minutes to walk
  • motivation to do it, every day

Now look around. You’ll see people walking for fitness in every park, city streets, along the boardwalk, down a country road – even in shopping malls. You won’t be alone in your quest for better health! The popularity of walking for fitness is growing by leaps and bounds due to it’s ease, health benefits and low start up cost. In conclusion, walking is truly one of the best ways to get back into a more active lifestyle while positioning you on the path to a longer and healthier life.

Walking My Way to Good Health

Walking To Health and Weight LossWith the rise of commentaries in the news and on documentaries about the high levels of obesity in North America it is no wonder people are getting out more, eating less, and taking conscious steps to control their weight.

Walking is an excellent first step on your way to better health. How can I be sure? Because conscious walking (with a pedometer tracking my every step) I lost the pregnancy weight and put myself into the best shape I’d ever been in at 30 years of age. I also walked off two years of depression (and the associated eating that comes with that illness) induced weight gain (to the tune of 45 pounds) in my mid-40s.

At neither time in my life did I feel like exercising – heck I didn’t even want to walk to the store if I could help it – but I forced myself for the first 2 weeks and after that I had a new healthy habit that I didn’t want to ever give up.

Honestly, it helps to have a pedometer to get and stay motivated. Not only will it chart your progress and push you onto new personal ‘bests’ but it feels like a treat. Somewhat like a gym membership except not as expensive, you can even ‘guilt’ yourself into making good use of your new purchase. Some days that guilt worked for me and some days it didn’t but I still love and use my pedometers today – one is very basic and over 12 years old, the other is an MP3 model purchased just 6 months ago.

So what happens while you are walking your way to health and how can an exercise so simple accomplish so much?

Well, when we walk, we are working muscles and joints. As muscles tone they burn more of the calories we put into our bodies and therefore less fat is stored. Less fat on your body is healthier all round.

Your joints on the other hand require flexibility. If they don’t have this flexibility, pain and inflammation are the result. Exercise that uses and strenthens your joints helps to prevent arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gout and more.

More health benefits? Walking also reduces the risks of heart attack, strokes and diabetes.

About Omron Pedometers

There is little doubt that if you’ve heard of a pedometer you’ve also heard of the company name Omron.

Why? Simply because they make some of the best pedometers, with the widest range of features, at some of the industry’s lowest prices.

In a market over-saturated with fitness gadgets, pedometer models and features, Omron has made it’s mark in the industry with the HJ-720ITC, the HJ-122, and the HJ-151 models. While each have a variety of features and a specific ‘look’, once you choose one there is very little chance that you will ever be disappointed with your choice.

The top 3 Omron Pedometers Reviewed

Every Omron pedometer reviewed below carries a one year warranty and is estimated to have an accurate step counter to +/- 5%.

The Omron HJ-720ITC

This model is an advanced pedometer with some unique features. First and foremost it offers a dual axis sensor – this feature is also touted in other models as a ‘pocket’ pedometer. You can carry this unit in your pocket or purse and still count your steps.

Omron’s HJ-720ITC has everything you’ll find in the HJ-112 (reviewed below) but you’ll also get the Omron Health Management Software with your purchase. The software allows you to upload a 6 week/42 day, memory of your workout history which the software then assesses and graphs your current progress. You will be presented with systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate stats as well as suggestions to increase your level of fitness in consecutive weeks. It’s all in the box! The HJ-720ITC pedometer, the software, a usb cord, a security strap, a belt holder, a complete instruction manual, 3 VDC battery and a screwdriver. Who loves this unit besides Pedometers.org? Money Magazine – they rated it the number one pedometer available today.

The Omron HJ-112

Out of Omron’s top three pedometers reviewed here, the HJ-112 is the best seller. With a dual axis sensor (similar to the HJ-720ITC) the HJ-112 accurately measures distance traveled, calories burned, time spent in aerobic exercise and steps taken.

This unit allows a quick review on the LCD screen of 7 days of past workouts so you can review your week’s progress and set higher goals from week to week. The pedometer’s internal clock automatically resets every night at midnight.

The HJ-112 comes with a 3 VDC battery, screwdriver, security strap, belt holder and instruction.

The Omron HJ-151

Less expensive than the two Omron pedometers above is the HJ-151 model. This unit comes only with a single axis, as such it must worn on the waist positioned correctly to ensure an accurate count. Created for the budget-conscious and beginner walker, the unit is still capable of decent accuracy, steps taken, calories counted, and distance traveled. A 7 day history allows you to review the week and increase goals for subsequent weeks. Comes with a belt clip and 3 VCD battery.

Reviews Vary by Model Numbers – Please find the Pedometers.org page for the specific model you are interested in using our search feature.

Choosing A Quality Digital Pedometer

Pedometer Review, Compare and Take NotesIf you’ve been shopping for a pedometer you may find that there are so many options, features, and reviews to choose from that it gets confusing. For that reason we at Pedometers.org have put together a list of tips on finding the best digital pedometer for your needs.

Although we strongly suggest the Omron we feature in the sidebar you may have others available to you through other venues so a list of criteria would be beneficial.

The interesting thing about these gadgets is that you don’t always have to pay more for a high quality step counter, calorie counter, or feature rich device. To avoid paying for features that you’ll never need or use or purchasing a pedometer at a higher price just because it is the newest model it is in your best interest to read some unbiased reviews before you order one.

Search for Accurate Counts of Steps

Truly the most essential characteristic of a digital pedometer is it’s ability to be accurate. Please first understand that not one device can be 100% accurate as a step counter but there are some that keep a very close count. Poor quality pedometers are known to under count, but they may also over count too.

Quality Clips or Belts That Are Secure

The last thing you want to do is shell out good money for a digital pedometer just to have it fly off your waist or belt and become lost forever due to a faulty clip. Although some good pedometers won’t break on a sudden impact, the loss of your pedometer – especially once you’ve programmed your daily walks and goals into it – is a major let down.

A Great Manufacturer’s Warranty

Since pedometers are now high tech devices look for a good manufacturers warranty upon purchase. Due to the multitude of parts and/or the computer chip technology inside there may be upgrades or replacement parts needed over the first year of owning a pedometer. A warranty from a top rate company is a great feature and money saver.

Long Battery Life

When reading pedometer reviews be sure to pay attention to the life of the battery comments. This is especially important if you travel or have a busy life that isn’t solely operated on routine. Pedometers that regularly run short of battery life and shut down may have troubles maintaining stored information and accurate counts.

False Step Sensor Feature

If you’ve found a pedometer review that is impressive and within your price range, look deeper for a feature called the false step sensor. These units don’t count movements that are not considered a normal step. These pedometers are often the most accurate when compared to other units without this feature.

Wait! Before You Buy That Pedometer, Consider This…

A Pedometer Only Needs to Be Walked and Will Make You Thinner and HealthierEverything you have heard is true! A pedometer is not much more than a small, lightweight device that counts your steps. They come in many different shapes and colors and some have a few fancy features but basically their ‘job’ is to count your steps. However, this seemingly insignificant device is so much more than a step counter. It is a fitness coach, a motivator and a tool to help you achieve new goals in your overall health.

Tall order, yes? If you purchase a pedometer and become comfortable with the available features of your model, it will pay you back with a longer life and a healthier lifestyle. All you have to do in return is take it out for a walk every day.

All tongue-in-cheek kidding aside, there are variety of pedometer models. Some flip-down and some are open face. Some count calories along with steps, others count distance traveled. Some come with an FM radio receiver, some play MP3s and others calculate your desired length of exercise with your current heart rate – and then change the music based on tempo to keep you moving.

Before choosing your pedometer you want to know what type of exercise routine you’ll be engaging in. Truly the most popular for those just getting back to being fit is a walking program that includes 10000 steps a day to start. After that you’ll be increasing your steps per day so be sure to get a pedometer with a memory of at least 7 days or one that allows you to upload your week’s workouts and walks to your computer via a USB cord. Sound fancy and expensive? These models are certainly fancy but they aren’t expensive. In fact you can find them right here on Pedometers.org for less than $40.

Another feature I love on my pedometer is the calorie burned counter. This usually prevents me from excusing myself of a second portion by telling myself that I walked an extra 200 steps. The numbers just won’t add up and if I’m not careful I’ll end up putting all that weight back on that I worked so hard to lose. The calorie counting pedometer keeps you honest with yourself – no excuses.

The Advantage of Walking for Fitness

Stretch Before Every Walk with Your Pedometer
Before walking for fitness with a pedometer, stretch your muscles to warm them up.

Walking for fitness, health and exercise is one of the best and easiest ways to get back into shape, strengthen your immune system (helping you to fight disease). Walking is also helpful to lower blood pressure, which keeps your blood pumping efficiently and increases metabolism. If you have slightly elevated LDL levels walking can help keep cholesterol in control too.

Not just for your inner body as well. Walk with a pedometer on a regular schedule and you’ll find your muscles strengthening while you lose weight.

Wondering how to get started? Although every person reading this will be at a different level of fitness nearly everyone should wear a pedometer for at least a week, counting their steps per day, and then setting goals for following weeks at an increase of 10-20%.

If you begin to take walks at a normal pace you can gradually step into a brisker pace each week, lengthen the time of your walks or add more aerobically challenging activities to your exercise time. No matter what level you are at, you should always warm up with a few stretches before you begin and cool down by walking slowly at the end of your workout.

All new exercise program should be worked into. For example if you are intending to eventually strength train a walking fitness program will bring you to the level required to build up enough muscle tone for your next program.

Walking for fitness programs often run on a seven day workout plan. In such a program you would use a diary, journal or log of activity to record progress and goals. Your primary goal would be to start walking each day. Do so for ten consecutive minutes at a minimum. Eventually you would work yourself up to 20 minutes per day.

A great way to stay motivated is to start or join a team of other pedometer walkers. Being part of a team will inspire you to stay focused, engaged and motivated. If you all being as new walking for fitness participants you can progress at the same rate (given similar ages and body types).

To push yourself or your team too early in your fitness program is to invite failure as a result of over-exertion. Overexertion is the most common reason people eventually give up on walking for fitness.

When your group is ready – or when you are ready as an individual – change your walking time to faster paced walks. These brisk walks shrink your risk of heart attack or a stroke, reduce the risks of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.