Increase Cardio to Gain Strength While Losing Weight

Treadmill, bike, stair climber, elliptical...which is right for you?Cardio exercises assist you to increase your heart rate by targeting the large muscle groups. This is why most cardio workouts involve upper thigh workouts – even as simplistic as walking and running. Once a moderate level of fitness is reached, we can’t get the same cardiovascular benefits just through leg movements and so the arms are engaged to keep your heart pumping and calories burning.

The categories of home exercise equipment we use for cardio exercises are listed below. If you own these machines and aren’t seeing as much progress, try incorporating arm exercises or increasing the speed of use to take your fitness to the next level.

  • Treadmill – Studies showing that exercise on the treadmill is superior over most other fitness equipment. You can adjust the settings to suit your fitness level or energy level in the workout. You’ll be able to walk, jog or run from the comfort of your own home regardless of the weather outside your door.
  • Stationary Step Machine – This class of home gym equipment burns calories, tones and enhances hips, legs and butts. You’ll also hear them called stair climbers and some come with an electronic display showing you (amongst other things) how many calories you have burned during your workout. Not recommended for the overly obese range or for those with weak joints.
  • Stationary Bike – Bikes without wheels that you can plant in front of the television set or computer to get a quick workout in at any time. Perfect for the home gym that doesn’t have much room to spare. According to recent studies a 30 minute workout on a stationary bike per day will maintain your current fitness level while conditioning your heart for more.
  • Elliptical Trainer – One of the most popular home gym exercise equipment available. The perfect home workout for anyone with stiff or weak joints.
  • Rowing Machine – Intense cardio workouts for moderate to hard core athletes. Easily folded and stored under a bed or in a small closet making them an excellent choice for a home gym. Some models have electronics to display and store calories burned, intensity of the workout or speed.

If you’re setting up your home gym for the first time and you aren’t sure which piece of equipment you want to buy first, I suggest getting a visitor pass to a professional gym or a one-month membership. Try out the equipment and see which one suits your style and needs best before committing to the purchase. Be sure to read our reviews (currently we are working through the treadmill models) and check out our current sales. Pedometers.org checks for the best deals online and factor in shipping costs and warranties to ensure you get the best value at the lowest final price.

Choosing A Pedometer to Lose Weight

Resolution time is upon us once again. So dust off those pedometers, we’re off to get some fit-inducing walks underway. Just by wearing your pedometer again and observing your daily steps and distance traveled will be motivational. I suggest if you are just starting out in your trek to better health, you wear it all day long for at least two weeks and journal your daily count. Once you have some new habits in place, you can wear your pedometer just for walking workouts.

If you don’t own a pedometer, or have never used one in the past, you might need a little guidance to choose the best one for your personality type, your needs, and your interest in fitness. At the most basic level, a pedometer will sense your body’s movement and count every step you take. Technology has taken this small device to do so much more though.

Once the steps are racking up, a pedometer will next convert those steps into distance traveled. It does so by learning the length of your stride. To do so you must program the pedometer to your average step (stride) length. Each model varies so you’ll have to read the instruction manual to get this accurately.

Here is a little explanation though to make sense of the measurement. Step lengths and stride lengths are often referred to as the same thing but in some cases they are different. Your step length is the distance from your heel print of one foot to the heel print of the other foot. Stride length is measured similarly by many pedometers but some explain it as the heel print of one foot to the next time that same foot imprints. Really this is a stride length of two steps, since the other foot has already touched down once.

Sometimes you can come across a fairly accurate guess-timate of stride length based on your height. For women the equation is your height x .413. For men the equation is your height x .415. This never worked for me but I have a longer than average inseam.

Enter the Multi-function Pedometer

Although all pedometers will count steps, there are others that record calories burned as well as estimating your speed and measuring pulse rate. Some will even tell you how much fat you burned and sync with your laptop or Iphone to chart your progress. If you like features in your gadgets get the best pedometer you can afford because all those charts, graphs and measurements will keep you motivated, I promise!

One of the newest features in pedometers are those that track both speed and distance. These devices use GPS technology which, when coupled with software to upload to your PC or online journals, is a lot of fun. Nike has even launched a foot pod that is embedded into your training shoes which also is stored online at their website.

Just the Basics Please – the Simple Step Counter

On the other hand, if simplicity is your game, the most basic yet accurate pedometer will be your goal. As for the numbers, you want to increase the count daily with a starting set (for the over 30 crowd) of 7000 for weight and health maintenance; 10,000-12,000 for weight loss and fitness; and 15,000 for athletic training.

How to Tell If Your Pedometer is Accurate

Accuracy becomes an obsession once you’ve owned a pedometer for a while. Dependent on your model of choice you may find that just wearing the pedometer in a different location may chance the accuracy of steps counted, or if you’re more concerned about distance traveled you may have to adjust your stride settings. Pedometers should be comfortable enough to wear all day – some will even count steps from your handbag or purse – but I prefer to wear mine on my hip with a safety leash. Safety leashes ensure your pedometer isn’t lost as you’ll soon find that you come to rely on the little gadget.

A great way to double check your pedometer for accuracy is to visit Google Maps: Pedometer. Just go there and chart your route, then compare the results with your own pedometer’s count.

Get Walking With Your New Pedometer

Keeping records for two weeks of your steps and distance keeps you motivated and here’s why. Every day you see that you’ve taken more steps than the day before and start to look for more ways to increase your step count. Walking up a flight of stairs, walking part way home, parking away from the grocery store are just three examples.

So let’s get busy walking shall we? I’ll walk with you, in my own little town and we’ll grow stronger, fitter and leaner every day. Even just the simplest little pedometer starting with just 5,000 steps a day is a great start – I know you’ll find it to be both motivational and addictive once you see the changes in your health and fitness level.

Easy Exercise Program Increases Metabolism and Speeds Weight Loss

Understand just the basics about metabolism and you can speed your weight loss. Master your metabolism and you will improve your endurance. What a good exercise program does is increase your metabolism while you’re getting fit to then remove excess fat while leaving your fluid levels intact. The end result is lean muscle strengthened, and an increased metabolism that will carry on burning fat for a long time to come.

As always…check with your doctor before beginning any weight loss program or exercise regime.

If you build your exercise and intensity (slowly) you will burn fat and increase muscle – which, in turn, increases your metabolism. Here is a sample program of consistency and moderation in an easy exercise program.

Start with a few stretching exercises and a brisk twenty minute walk, followed by more stretching exercises.

If you own a pedometer, chart your progress over the course of a week – increasing your steps or distance traveled daily.

Once you are up to, and comfortable with, 15,000 steps a day, it will be time to work on your upper body strength. Tricep dips, push ups and crunches are simple exercises that everyone knows how to perform. Do as many as you can today, and increase your repetitions every day.

Alter your strength training with walks throughout the week. When you’re ready for a new challenge, move onto some lower body workouts after your walks by doing repetitions of squats or following a DVD step workout.

As you lose weight and start feeling more fit, keep stretching but add in the walks, the upper body workouts and the lower body workout and your metabolism will start kicking in and working for you all day. In time you start feeling better about yourself as you do more. You may even want to incorporate or revisit other exercises in your program that you enjoy. Swimming, cycling, spin class at the gym, whatever you choose as long as you enjoy it and it keeps you moving!

The Exercise Metabolism Connection

Have you, in the past, started a rigorous exercise program, started eating several small meals a day, or started taking a supplement that promised to boost your metabolism? If so you have been thinking about, learning about, or attempting to alter your metabolism.

So which one works? The truth is, they all work in conjunction with a weight loss program of eating correctly and exercising regularly.

Exercise, eating strategically, and ensuring that your body has catabolism-friendly supplements are three of many generally good weight loss ideas.

If your methods of increasing your metabolic rate didn’t prove the results you’d hoped for it is likely that you are just missing one or two parts of the metabolism puzzle. You don’t need to be a scientist or struggle through medical journals to learn the ins and outs of your metabolism though. This article and others like it on Pedometers.org will help to get you on track.

On your walk to better health it is important to not risk your future health. To ensure it you’ll want to understand strategies, and techniques of increasing your metabolism while walking to lose weight – or any other exercise program. Although there are many ways to do so, the ten easiest ways will be discussed over the next few articles. You will find them all within the ‘Metabolism’ category here.

Each of the ten tips are classified in one of three categories: exercise, lifestyle and diet. However you will also notice while you read that some of the tips are equally valid in one of the other categories. As an example of this, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is also a lifestyle choice. Therefore I suggest you read every section or article to get the most value and the best weight loss results.

Since exercise is one of my favorite topics, we’ll start there…

You can’t skip exercising if you want to increase your metabolism to lose weight unless you’re born with an unusually overactive metabolism. Any cardiovascular (aka aerobic) exercise will work as long as you notice an increase in heart rate and body temperature. With the added benefits of blood circulation and oxygen intake/carbon dioxide exchange, your metabolic rate increases.

The other side of exercise, strength training, increases metabolism by building muscle. Why does this work? Well a pound of muscle will burn more calories than a pound of fat. Therefore the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn in any activity – sedentary or aerobic.

Just remember that if you workout to build muscle and then quit exercising those muscles over time, your muscle fibers deteriorate you lose the high metabolic rate that burns calories so efficiently. Adjust your intake to ensure you don’t pack on the pounds again if you stop working out.

Some Specifics About The Metabolism and Exercise Connection

The basic weight loss principle behind exercise is catabolism. By changing your body’s composition (i.e. more muscle than fat) it requires more energy and catabolism will break down cells to deliver that energy to you. Based on that logic, once you have gained a moderate comfort level with walking or other aerobic exercise you might want to look into some interval training. Interval training is a high-energy, calorie burning, exercise plan implemented on an infrequent basis.

As an example, if you walk every day try adding a twenty minute jog to your program every second day. It will increase your metabolism by building muscle and oxygen intake. Another example, if you have achieved a stronger fitness level and you jog, try adding a one minute sprint every twenty minutes that you jog. Do you see the trend here? Anything that will give your body a bit of a jolt or rush will work.

Interval training can last longer than a minute but for most people this is based o your current level of fitness. Those who are extremely fit may benefit from interval training of 30-40 minutes at a time.

As with all exercise changes, check with your doctor for specific advice and don’t overdo it with interval training. Your goal here is to become healthier and stronger, and lose weight in that process.

Of course there is much more to learn about interval training but that introduction will get you started. A hint to keep you interested in interval training is that by adding some variety to your exercise program you can give your metabolism another jolt. The variety ensures that your body doesn’t get into a comfortable groove and continues to burn calories at a faster rate.

Remember that any activity that causes your temperature to increase, your heart working harder and deeper breathing will increase your metabolism and aim for those increases regularly.

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.

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.

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.

Creating New Habits Around Exercise

Walk While You Shop - Take A Stroll Any WhereThere isn’t one person in my circle of friends who doesn’t ache to lose a few pounds at least once or twice per year. Even the skinny ones among us talk about their dieting and exercise woes. Men, women, teens, seniors, everyone wants to lose weight but we’re either too busy, too tired at the end of the day or too lacking in motivation.

If you fit in any of those categories you’ll need to know that losing weight, changing your food habits and getting more exercise is all a ‘head game’. Sure it’s hard – you need both will power and some sweat equity to decrease your mass – but with time, dedication and effort you get to live in a body you love.

The mental prowess you’ll need to keep yourself motivated is a huge part of the process. If you can use determination, the fun factor, jealousy, or any other emotion to your advantage you’ll be able to tackle the bulge and put the excuses to rest.

Remember we’re not talking about running a marathon every weekend here. You begin with small steps – a little more than your body is currently used to – and as the pounds slip away you’ll take your new love of exercise and your new strengths to tackle more challenges on your path to better health.

This is just as simple as strapping on a pedometer, gauging the amount of steps you take in an average day, and increasing that number as your first fitness goal. Walking really can help you lose the weight that you’re ready to be rid of.

Over the next few days I’ll be adding a “Walk It Off” online course for all our readers. We’ll also be investigating ways for you to keep track of your steps and your fitness goals through Pedometers.org. More about that later, for now please understand that walking will burn a sufficient amount of calories, which ensures that stored fat on your body will be used for energy.

All that is required to start is a simple pedometer and thirty minutes of energetic walking everyday. If you are very heavy right now you might like to talk to your doctor first or go a little slower for the first few weeks until you gain some strength and stamina.

Let’s get back for a moment to the mind games we play with ourselves and the excuses. Here’s the one I hear the most often. It’s boring! Yes, it can be hard to find joy, fun or entertainment in a 30 minute walk but you’ve got to find a way to do it nonetheless. Take an MP3 pedometer for a walk with you and listen to some music or recorded seminars that you’ve been dying to listen to.

You can also change where you walk. Head off to the mall and some do some walking. You can window shop on the way. Or walk with a friend or neighbor. How about heading to the park, beach boardwalk, or bike path?

Here are a few other suggestions:

A friend of mine was going to Italy in two months. He wanted to be fit when he flew over because he was tired of carrying around an extra 25 pounds so he started walking. You know what else he did? Learned some great conversational Italian on his MP3 pedometer.

If you’re lonely on your walks make a pact with a friend to walk at lunch or every night after dinner together. You can even wager a free meal or task (“…if either of us cancel our walk three times we have to clean the other friend’s house.”) Better still…your dog will never cancel out on a walk with you, so take Fido along.

Stay tuned to Pedometers.org for more information and our upcoming course on Walk It Off.

Walk Your Way to Fitness

Walking Leads to Weight Loss Which Leads to More Challenging Aerobic ExerciseIf you are currently carrying some extra weight or have trouble with your knees, ankles or hips, walking with a pedometer is a sure fire way to get back to a comfortable fitness level. Walking? You do it every day right? You walk when you’re running errands, tidying the house, or during regular work routines – but walking for fitness is just a little different and it can help you lose weight, increase muscle tone and live a longer life. You just need a way to measure your current daily steps and chart a path to success with a simple pedometer.

Don’t think that just because you want to get into shape you have to join an aerobics class or start an exercise routine that is difficult and could cause you more harm than help you. Yes, aerobic exercise can be enjoyable but it may be too much, too fast, for your system and joints if you’re already carrying a few extra pounds. Being fit has more to do with regularly exercising and reaping the benefits that make you feel good about yourself.

Just walking daily for 30 consecutive minutes will give you outstanding results in minimal time. Although sometimes we measure this in total steps for the day with a pedometer you can count on adding a few thousand extra steps to your day to reach your goals. This doesn’t need to be strenuous. Walking is a great way to rebuild muscle and tone your heart. Fitness experts will all agree that walking is the perfect exercise on the path to high health.

Fitness experts and gurus aside I think you’ll also find that walking is something that almost all doctors will recommend as well. You won’t have to spend money on expensive equipment, you can do it anywhere (even in the comfort of your own home) and the weather won’t even be able to affect or deter you from your commitment to fitness. Walking is also perfect for pre-conditioning your body for more intense aerobic exercise.

Begin with a pace that you are comfortable with but as brisk as possible so that you will burn unwanted fat while flushing out toxins through perspiration. If you cannot manage 30 minutes a day of brisk walking then start with three 10 minute walks per day. You’ll lose weight, increase your energy level, lower your blood pressure, increase your metabolism and strengthen your heart.

Once taking 30 minutes walks are no longer a challenge for you, look around for an aerobic exercise you might enjoy. Cycling is a fantastic next step and can also be performed in the solitude and safety of your own home, in any weather.

Whichever path you choose, always set a new goal as you near the last one. This keeps you motivated and you can celebrate as you move into the next level of fitness.

A Pedometer Helps You Increase Daily Exercise Levels

Newest pedometer on the market: The Philips ActivaThe vast majority of us detest the thought of exercise – yet we all want to be in better shape. Not exercising regularly can result in weight gain and resulting health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

When you get that feeling that it might be time to start exercising again or regularly you consider the options – perhaps a gym membership, a piece of fitness equipment for the home, or taking up a new physical hobby. Beginning a workout program doesn’t have to be costly or difficult though. In fact, starting a new program is the easy part, sticking to it is where the difficultly arrives.

Overall the easiest way to get more exercise without the expense is to increase your walking. Again, easy to say you’ll do it but without a walking partner or a plan it may all fall by the wayside until your doctor notices health complications due to obesity. Don’t let it get that far! You can do this now and a simple pedometer can be accountability partner – keeping you on track, moving forward and increasing your steps on a daily basis.

A pedometer can be purchased with a variety of different features. Some are designed primarily for the walking or jogging group of fitness-minded people. Others are designed for cardio workouts. A pedometer will come in ranges from the very simple, basic pedometer (a step counter) to the more sophisticated model that has a range of other functions. The most well received ‘extra’ in the world of pedometer upgrades in the last 10 years has been those with the ability to transfer statistics directly to your personal computer through your USB port.

Aside from all the bells and whistles of the more advanced models, a pedometer helps you reach your goal to become more fit and perhaps to lose some weight.

A pedometer is a gadget to help you track the number of steps you take. By targeting a realistic daily step rate you will walk more and as a result increase your fitness and lose weight. Trials have shown that wearing a pedometer is helpful in increasing the number of calories burned. 26 studies, reviewed in the Journal of American Medicine, showed that the use of a pedometer was effective in increasing how much participants walked every day. A typical study concluded that step rates were increased by around 2000 steps compared to participants not using a pedometer. Two thousand steps is roughly equivalent to an extra mile walked each day and a 25% increase in activity. This is a considerable difference and would have a major influence on the participants health and weight.

An important consideration to to remember is to set reasonable goals. Setting a step target every day was shown to have a major effect on the amount of physical activity achieved. Those participants who managed to keep up their target showed a marked increase in activity and benefited more by showing increases in fitness which included a reduction in weight and blood pressure. On the other hand cholesterol and blood sugar levels seem to be unchanged.

The use of a pedometer can be a huge help in increasing the level of physical activity without having to join a gym. By making daily increases in the number of steps you take you will reap the rewards of a healthy weight and improved fitness levels. A simple pedometer is the easy way to monitor these benefits, get yours today.

Starting Out With A Step Counter

Step Counter vs. Pedometer - Which Do You Need?
By the time you retire you could be taking treks along the side of moutain ranges. Start walking today and you never know where it will take you...

A step counter, or pedometer, can improve your health and overall wellness, help you to lose weight and potentially live longer too.

So, what’s a pedometer? It is a small electronic device (a gadget) that you wear on your waistband. As you walk, it counts your steps.

To be technically correct I’ll clarify. A pedometer actually calculates distance. A step counter only counts steps. Today’s pedometer still counts steps but it also uses a user-input stride length to calculate that distance.

More complex pedometers will also calculate calories burned, time spent in exercise each day, steps per minute and whether you reach aerobic levels, etc. If you are just starting to walk for fitness, you don’t need much more than a decent $20 or so step counter.

So why would you want to count steps anyway? Well the steps you take are a primary indicator of the activity you engage in each day. Research and studies over the last ten years have shown that you don’t need to allot a specific time for exercising as smaller bouts of exercise can have the same effect. Say, for instance a short walk in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Nice? I thought you’d like that! Some small daily changes in your routine and a simple little pedometer to chart your progress can have tremendous beneficial effects on your health.

By taking more steps per day you increase your daily activity and metabolism. You burn more calories. Your muscles get moving.

But that’s not all….

Exercising also increases stamina, stimulates weight loss, lowers blood cholesterol levels, lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood and your self image and enhances your quality of life. Really. Try it for a week – 3 small walks per day, every day and assess how you feel by the end of one week. Remember that it takes 7 weeks to make your new habit a part of your life so if you feel better (and I know you will) then keep at it for another 6 weeks to follow.

Here’s what else you’ll notice…

You’re going to sleep better, you’ll be strengthening your heart and lungs, your energy will increase and you’ll ability to deal with stress will strengthen. You’ll also lower your triglycerides and better control blood sugar levels/diabetes naturally.

There are more benefits to exercise as I’m sure you already know. The point is that a new routine, a step towards fitness, doesn’t need to cost a fortune or fill up your evenings and weekends. Start with just 10 minute walks a few times a day and your life will be improved. Assess at the end of the week and if you’re feeling great, add more time to each walk or increase the speed and intensity of your walks. Measure your progress and record your steps in your personal pedometer if you have one.

Here’s to your strength, your health, and your long life!

Fitness Gifts Between Friends

Fitness related gifts must be given with a measure of caution.Over the years you’ve dieted, changed exercise routines, bought equipment, got a membership to the gym, changed your life style, changed your eating habits, read books, taken classes – so on and so on – to get and keep fit, right?

Let me ask you though…have you ever tried taking on accountability with a ‘fitness friend’? Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting that you haven’t, but in parts of my own life I’ve retreated into seclusion thinking that extra weight and loss of fitness was only my problem. My friends were fit and trim which only made it harder on my psyche that I was carrying around an extra 20 pounds.

Last year at a Christmas party one of my friends gave me a pedometer. I was instantly excited about this gadget and all the programming features, but later found out that she had been worried to give it to me. Worried that I might have been offended because I’d assume she was saying that I need to lose weight.

Since those days I have given many of my friends and associates a pedometer as Birthday and Christmas gifts and been met with varying reactions. So, if you’re thinking of purchasing a pedometer as a gift for someone, here are some tips I’ve gained over the years.

First of all, you don’t want to be giving a fitness related gift to someone unless you’re either:

(a) fit yourself, or
(b) hoping the recipient will become your fitness accountability partner.

You’ll want to know the benefits of regular exercise and how a pedometer can help you reach your own fitness goals before you present a fitness related gift to someone. If the recipient knows that you are looking out for their best interest, that you want them to live a longer and healthier life, the pedometer will be well received.

I always give the high-tech pedometers as gifts as, if nothing else, the recipient will be less offended because you appear to have lavished them with something new and expensive when the functions and options are varied. (Don’t worry, you won’t need to spend a lot more money to get the newest, high tech pedometer.) The fact is that we live in a high-tech, gadget-oriented, world. Women love appliances that make their lives easier and men enjoy new gadgets that they use and display like a trophy. These electronic wonders add some spice and interest to new hobbies and habits.

My point is that you want to shop for a pedometer that has new and innovative technology. This might be a pedometer with speed and distance units that utilize GPS technology. These units give constant readouts on the owner’s speed, distance, pace, and some come with add features such as a heart rate monitor that can be stored on a separate recorder unit…which eventually can be downloaded to your computer.

If your recipient is into mountain climbing, shop for the ones that measure altitude, temperature, and EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) levels. If they’re a golfer, grab one that records and stores golf scores plus measures the swing speed.

Options are aplenty – from the most simple fitness gift to high tech sports watches – whichever one you choose offers you the satisfaction that you have given a gift from the heart that assists your recipient in living a healthier, active, and longer life.