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One Step at a Time

An article by Linda Byard 

A 10,000 step a day physical fitness program which originated in Japan and sports a name which sounds roughly like “manpo” is spreading into the US. Common sense, along with research, says that there is value in the program for many of us.

The premise is that in order to maintain one’s health, you need to walk (or be active) the equivalent of 6,000 steps a day. If you want to approach the realm of being physically fit and/or to lose weight, you need to walk 10,000 steps per day. Given everyone’s busy lifestyles, the experts suggest that you strive for 70,000 steps a week and customize the program to fit your daily life.

Here is how it can work for you: start a pedometer on Monday morning at zero. If you aren’t showing around 10,000 steps a day during the work week, try to fit in that extra walking you need to get your total up over the weekend. You wear the pedometer all the time, so yes, it does count as you do your day – from walking to the refrigerator, the couch, or the car, to doing the stairs, jogging, fitness classes, and hikes. If you are already very active, then this program has little to say to you. But if you find that after a trial week or two, your numbers aren’t where you want them to be, you know exactly what you need to do, and you can watch your progress on the pedometer very easily. Soon you too will know how many steps there are between your house and the mailbox, between the couch and the kitchen, and maybe also how many steps you can get in by strolling around the block or leaving your car at the far end of the parking lot. Avoiding elevators works too.

You can buy a pedometer at any big box discount or sports store. They range in price from less than ten dollars to up past fifty depending on what you want your instrument to do. The higher the price, the more features you will probably get. Today’s pedometers count steps, measure distance, take your heart rate, calculate calories burned, some even “talk,” but no, they won’t help you decide what to make for dinner, and they won’t do your taxes either. All you really need is a simple step-counter, and these generally cost less than fifteen dollars. One reliable model is a #340 put out by Sportline. Its spring clip is less prone to breakage than other fasteners, and its small size makes it non-obtrusive. This model also measures your distance if you program in the length of your stride but you don’t need to do this. For many of us, simple is better.

If your steps number somewhere around six thousand a day, and you increase them to ten thousand a day without changing your eating habits, guess what happens to your weight? If you walk somewhere around six thousand steps a day and you move to ten thousand a day, and you reduce your caloric intake as well, you will get even better results. You probably won’t notice a reduction in gray hairs or the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but you will, over time, lose some weight and probably feel just a bit better too. The dirty little secret, yes, is that 10,000 is a big number and if you don’t take some of those steps at a reasonable pace, you either won’t do them all, or it will take too much of your day. This is not a promise of magic; if you want results, you still have to put in some effort. Many people find this program a lot more appealing though than trying to lose weight through diet alone. Plus exercise is very helpful in preventing disease and in keeping various measures of blood chemistry in healthful ranges.

The advantages of this program are that you don’t need to make a particular time commitment or attend a class. Except for the pedometer, you don’t need any special equipment either. You can do this alone or with somebody. You can even step in place while you watch television and wear your old clothes. The steps are easy; just do them one at a time!

Linda Byard

      Another article from Linda:
     Driving in the UK - Take your life in your hands.
     The Transatlantic Journey - Surviving Long Flights


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