With all the types of equipment at the gym, who knew it would take a small, inexpensive clip-on device to get me to be more active? Surprise – I'm more goal-oriented than I thought.
I've used pedometers in the past, like one time when my husband and I visited Italy. He'd click this handy little record-keeper onto his belt each morning when we set out for our daily sightseeing and we'd play a guessing game at the end of each day – how many miles do you think we walked? The final tally always surprised - and delighted - us. Six miles, really? That earned a gelato after dinner. Ten miles today? Must have been all those stairs. Our little guessing game motivated us to push ourselves just a little bit further each day and feel ever-so-ready to sit and relax over a special dinner each night, filled with all the things one comes to Italy to eat, bar none.
But when we returned home, the pedometer broke, life got busy, and like all good vacations, it was relegated to a distant memory.
Until I received an Oregon Scientific Calorie Coach pedometer in the mail last month to test out. The company has partnered with yoga lifestyle company Gaiam to create some pretty stylish, easy-to-use workout gadgets for women. This cool-looking lime green gadget not only measures my distance, but also keeps a tally of total calories burned.
The pedometer brought back memories of that splendid trip to Italy; I decided that although I might not be going back anytime soon, I could use a bit of extra motivation to move my body more, especially since the days were getting shorter and colder and my outdoor walks were becoming less and less likely, especially after getting pounded this past weekend with some significant snowfall.
Besides, I had read lots of studies touting the benefits of wearing a pedometer. Like one in which 400 women were given pedometers and the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day (the amount recommended by many health experts). After eight weeks, the women reported feeling more energetic and experienced less frequent illness and as a bonus, weight loss. Similarly, when researchers studied 200 people who wore pedometers and then measured their body fat, fitness level and blood pressure, they found improvements in all three, as if they had done structured exercise. And in another study which involved senior adults with knee osteoarthritis who participated in arthritis self-management class, the group who were given pedometers not only increased their steps by 23 percent but showed improved walking and greater leg strength – while the other (non-pedometer) group was actually walking less than when they started. Still another study showed that pedometer-wearers increased their physical activity by over 2,000 steps per day (that's equivalent to about a mile).
So now, as soon as I get dressed in the morning, I clip on my trusty pedometer. It's almost like having a private coach tagging along, coaxing me to remember to move more. When I pull into a parking lot, I opt for the space farther away so I can log in more steps. And when someone in my house needs something from the downstairs freezer or leaves something in their car in the garage, I'm all over it. My pedometer even gets me out of the house when the weather outside is frigid.
After all, the dog can't rely on that tiny patch of grass right outside my front door forever. A dog needs her exercise, too.