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Stepping Out With a Pedometer

Studies show people who wear pedometers walk more. Try it and see if you can log 10,000 steps a day!

Electronic gadgets are constantly worming their way into my daily life, and that can feel overwhelming. A 220-page manual accompanied my new digital camera. After hours of study, I learned a few basic functions. Two weeks later, however, I’d forgotten everything and had to reread the manual. Upgrading my cell phone, finding a wireless connection for a laptop computer when traveling, using the remote control in a motel room — all of these tasks challenge my technological intelligence.

See also: How to get started walking for exercise.

But I have found one gadget I love — my $25 pedometer. It’s a simple, two-inch device that attaches to my waistband. After calibrating the measurements to the length of my step, I can touch a button and see how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve burned or how many miles I’ve walked.

My goal is 10,000 steps a day. To reach it on days when I am not playing tennis, I have to look for opportunities to walk. If I’m short of my 10,000-step goal, I’ll park at the far edge of the grocery store parking lot or I’ll suggest a “walk and talk” lunch with a friend.

I’m delighted at the pedometer’s impact on my habits. Wearing the pedometer makes me more conscious of how much exercise I am getting, and I find myself willing to make a special effort to reach my daily goal. Researchers have confirmed that people walk more when they wear a pedometer and lose modest amounts of weight without changing eating habits.

fat2fit: working out with a pedometer

Getty Images

Wearing a pedometer can help you walk more and stay in shape.

Because it is easy to overestimate the amount of exercise I get, especially if I am tired, the pedometer also keeps me in touch with reality. Why not get everyone in your family to wear a pedometer and keep track of their steps? Or maybe get a “steps” competition started at work?

According to experts, the benefits of walking are numerous, from burning calories to building muscles to strengthening bones. Walking also improves outlook, reduces stress and helps us sleep better. And as exercise goes, walking is relatively inexpensive. All you need is a good pair of shoes.

If you want to learn more, visit 10,000 Steps a Day. This website provides useful advice about how to get started safely. For example, if you are sedentary (typically walking 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day), add 500 steps a day for a week or two. Ultimately, you want to keep adding steps until you reach your goal of 10,000 a day.

Speaking of motivation, I have to turn off the computer and get moving!

Carole Carson, author of  From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction, serves as the coach for the AARP Fat to Fit online community.