How to Use a Pedometer to Start a Walking Program

Walk to improve your health

Believe it or not, spring is on its way.  The warmer temperatures already this week may inspire you to get outside and get some exercise. If walking is your sport of choice, use a pedometer to improve your level of fitness and measure your progress .

How to Buy a Pedometer

Pedometers come in many different price ranges, but an inexpensive model is really all you need to measure your steps per day.  You can find one at your local sporting goods store for less than $20. Most pedometers attach to your belt or waistband.  As you move through your daily activities, it measures the number of steps you take.

Figure Out Your Steps Per Day

The first time you wear your pedometer, don’t be worried about adding extra steps or trying to get the number too high.  Just measure a typical day’s activity to establish your starting point.

Activity Categories

  • Less than 5000 steps = sedentary
  • 5000-7499  = low active
  • 7500-9999 = somewhat active
  • More than 10,000 = active
  • More than 12,500 = highly active

Set a goal to improve your health by moving up at least one category.  For example, if you took 6000 steps on the first day you wore your pedometer, that means you started in the “low active” category.  Set a goal to walk 7,500 steps or more in order to move into the “somewhat active” category.   Once you reach that goal, see if you can set a new goal and continue to make progress.

Achieve a Moderate Walking Pace

Once you find yourself in the “active” category, start to measure the pace of your walks.  To improve your health, experts generally recommend 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity.  So how do you know if you are walking at a moderate intensity?

Researchers have found that moderate intensity walking can be achieved at a pace of 100 steps per minute, or 3000 steps in 30 minutes.  But, you don’t need to complete all 30 minutes in one session.  Three sessions of 1000 steps in 10 minutes can also be used to meet the recommended goal .


Simon J. Marshall, et al. “Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, May 2009.

Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr. “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.” Sports Medicine , 2004;34(1):1-8..

(Photo credit: phaewilk/Morguefile)


Avoid Weight Loss Workout Mistakes

walking shoesDid you start a new workout program in 2014?  If you’re like many Americans, you began the new year with a new commitment to exercise and a eat better diet.  But in order to keep your plan on track, you need to stay healthy.  Try to avoid these workout mistakes to keep your program on track.

3 Common Workout Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Doing too much too soon.  We are often enthusiastic when we start a new exercise program.  That excitement can lead to injury if you do too much too soon.  If you are new to exercise, try to do a moderate workout (like walking or swimming) 2-3 times during the week.  Try to move continuously for 20-30 minutes and gradually increase the duration of your sessions.
  2. Eating too many calories.  It’s easy to justify that extra dessert or that extra serving of mashed potatoes if you have exercised during the day.  But if your goal is weight loss, remember that you need to end the day with a calorie deficit. Your exercise session probably won’t burn enough calories to account for your extra indulgence.  A 30 minute walk on the treadmill, for example, only burns about 130 calories.  A brownie contains 400 calories.
  3. Not asking for help Your workout will be more effective if you exercise at the correct intensity and incorporate a few strength and flexibility exercises.  If you don’t know what exercises to do, ask for help! Check out the exercise videos at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss to learn about different ways to exercise at home.  Or ask your physician for a referral to see an expert at the Institute for Athletic Medicine.

Don’t forget to connect with us at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Creative Exercise Ideas (video)

Did you make a resolution to get more exercise in 2014?  The American Heart Association recommends that we get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week to boost our heart health.  That adds up to about 20 – 25 minutes of exercise each day or longer sessions on fewer days of the week.

So what do you do during each session?  No fancy equipment is required.  Use suggestions from North Memorial’s Dr.William L Youmans in the video below or watch exercise videos at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss to see instructions for specific movements to do in your home.

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Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

7 Fun Holiday Workout Solutions

Most of exercise less during the holidays. Who has time to go to the gym when there are family gatherings to attend, school parties to visit, and holiday shopping to finish. It’s no surprise that our workouts fall to the bottom of the priority list in December.

Why Exercise Matters More During the Holidays

But the holidays are when exercise matters more.  Physical activity will help to alleviate stress, burn extra calories from holiday parties, and may even help you sleep better at night.  Fun physical activities might also help you to spend time bonding with family members and friends.

7 Fun Holiday Workout Solutions

So how do you get more physical activity during the holidays?  Use these ideas to stay healthy and fit during the hectic holiday season.

  • Schedule a group walk before family meals.
  • Meet friends for yoga class instead of happy hour
  • Rent skates and burn calories on the ice (indoors or out)
  • Learn to cross country ski with your kids
  • Do quick mini strength workouts at home
  • Take the kids to the community pool to swim laps and burn off steam
  • Enjoy a morning mall walk before shopping (the distance around one complete level at the Mall of American is .57 miles)
  • Do an online yoga class (try this quick 10-minute Beginner Yoga to de-stress and improve flexbility)

Need more incentive to workout?  Listen to this short video by North Memorial’s Leslie Norton MD about the health benefits of exercise.

Leslie Norton Importance of Exercise

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.





How to Exercise Safely in Cold Weather

file8301237150652Minnesotans are known for their hearty lifestyles.  And the Twin Cities often ranks as one of the country’s fittest communities.  So it is no surprise that during cold temperatures we often hit the pavement and exercise outdoors when many others would stay inside to work out.  But is it really safe to exercise in cold temperatures?

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers a list of tips to keep you safe and healthy during cold outdoor exercise sessions. ACE’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric X. Bryant shares this advice to help you prepare for the elements:

  • Layer up for your workout. Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is the most important element in performance while exercising in the cold. By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed as you work out.
  • Protect your head. Generally, heat loss from the head alone is about 50% at the freezing mark, and by simply wearing a helmet or hat, a person can stay outside indefinitely.
  • Don’t leave the house without your gloves. Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from your hands to the center of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands using gloves will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage.
  • Check with the weatherman: Always check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold and dress appropriately. A danger exists for individuals with exposed skin when the wind-chill factor falls below –20° F.

If you are a runner, the Road Runners Club of America offers special tips for you.  They suggest that you leave the headphones at home and stay off the street entirely when it is snowing.  Their complete list can be found on their website.

Are you just starting a workout program?  Are you looking for simple exercises to do at home?  Check out the tips, videos and advice at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.  Then join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more daily advice.

Burn Calories on Cross Country Skis

Did the recent snow inspire you to get outdoors and exercise? For many of us, it does just the opposite. Short, cold days often make us want to sit on the couch and eat.  But you may be able to inspire yourself if you grab a few friends and learn a new sport.  If you want to burn mega calories and go easy on your joints, cross country skiing is the perfect activity for you.

Fitness Benefits of Cross Country Skiing

Nordic skiing, also known as cross country skiing, can be a tough sport.  But like many activities, it can be performed at a moderate or even easy intensity level.  If you are new to the sport, you can look forward to these fitness and weight loss benefits:

  • Burns 300 to 500 calories per hour
  • Strengthens the muscles in the lower body
  • Helps develop core strength and stability skills
  • Provides a total body workout that is easy on the joints

Learn to Cross Country Ski

Now is the perfect time to learn to ski and the Twin Cities has plenty of park services and rental outlets that will allow you to try it out without investing too much money.  Call these locations or check online to get more information about trails and schedules.

Trails in Minneapolis

Trails in the suburbs:

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Exercise Tips for Diabetics

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, exercise can help you manage the disease.  According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can benefit from a regular exercise program and from daily activities that involve physical activity.  But if you have never exercised before, how do you start?

To get an answer, I went to Darin Thom, DPT, the Interim Director of Rehabilitation at the Institute for Athletic Medicine.  The Institute offers a Diabetes Activity Program for people with type 2 diabetes or for anyone who needs help starting an exercise program to improve his or her health.  He gave me tips for diabetics who want to start an exercise program.

9 Exercise Tips for People with Diabetes

  1. Choose exercise that makes you feel good.  Find an activity that you enjoy and try not to view it as punishment. Of course, not everyone enjoys exercise while they are doing it, but you should choose an activity that makes you glad you did it once your session is complete.
  2. Set realistic expectations.  When setting goals, shoot for the low hanging fruit first and slowly progress to the top.  Set goals that are based on exercise behavior (for example, “I’ll walk for 20 minutes, 3 times per week”) rather than on a specific outcome like weight loss or reaching a certain pants or dress size.
  3. Give yourself credit.  Reward yourself and recognize your successes.  But remember that you’ll have both good and bad days.  You may find it helpful to keep a journal to monitor your progress.
  4. Identify roadblocks.  Think about the things that might stop you from completing your exercise session, If you can identify barriers, they become easier to eliminate so you can reach your goal.
  5. Be flexible.  Choose a type of exercise and workout times that fit your lifestyle, beliefs and attitudes.  It might also be helpful to have alternate activities for variety or for times when your regular exercise session isn’t possible.
  6. Understand exercise benefits. Know why you are exercising and what you hope to gain from sticking to your program.  Your doctor may be able to help you understand how exercise can improve your medical condition. But you may benefit from social and emotional benefits as well.  Being aware of these benefits will help you stick to the program.
  7. Get expert advice. Discuss guidelines and recommendations with your physical therapist and/or physician.  Start slowly and progress gradually over time.  Modest levels of activity can be quite effective in achieving health, social and psychological benefits.
  8. Set a schedule in advance and stick to it. Not sure when you’ll have time to exercise?  Use our downloadable Exercise Time Finder to find blocks of time where you can schedule healthy physical activity. Post your schedule where you can see it so it serves as a reminder of your commitment.
  9. Find a partner to exercise with you. Connect with others in your neighborhood, your work environment, your church or your community.  You’re more likely to stick to your plan if you have an exercise buddy.

Diabetes Activity Program – What to Expect

If you want to learn more about the Diabetes Activity Program contact the Institute for Athletic Medicine or speak to your physician about getting a referral.  For some patients, losing weight is a benefit of the program.  But Thom says that the goal is not necessarily weight loss, but rather improvements in the way each patient is able to move through typical daily activities.

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.