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 .

Sources:

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)

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Quick Tips for Weight Loss

Listen to my quick weight loss tips

You may not have time to read a book, watch a DVD or attend a class to learn how to lose weight.  But you probably have 60 seconds to listen to a quick tip, right?  Last week I visited KS95 to record some easy advice for people who want to lose weight.  Give them a quick listen.  Even if you don’t need to shed pounds, each minute-long segment includes simple things that anyone can do to eat well, move more and improve their health.

Quick and Easy Weight Loss Tips

  • Body Mass Index  What is BMI and why does it matter?  Get the basic facts.
  • Design for Weight Loss  Set up your home and workspace so that you make better food choices.
  • Goal Setting  Want to reach your goals? Set yourself up for success with these steps.
  • Start an Exercise Program  Get ready to move! Even if you haven’t done so in a while, follow these steps to begin.
  • State Fair Tips  These tips will guide you through a healthy visit to the Minnesota State Fair.

And don’t forget to check out the rest of our Minnesota State Fair related blog posts, including this list of Healthy State Fair Foods.

For more health tips, news, diet and exercise advice at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss or by finding us on Facebook and Twitter.

Bust Your Junk Food Cravings

Where do you keep your snacks?

New research has revealed that we are more likely to crave junk food if we see it in front of us. But did we really need a scientific study to confirm that?  Most of us already know that when we see the food we crave, we are more likely to want to eat it.

So why should that research matter to you? Because it could inspire you to make changes that will help you to lose weight.   If you want to cut back on high calorie and high fat foods, then try to limit the junk food that you see. These simple changes to your environment could have a big impact on your waistline.

  • Move high calorie snacks off the counter and put them in closed cupboards
  • Put healthy quick snacks like carrot sticks or small containers of lowfat yogurt on the front shelves of your refrigerator so you see them right away when you open the door.
  • Clean out your desk drawers of candy, snacks and treats.
  • Keep a bottle if water on your desk so that you are not tempted to hydrate with high-calorie soda.

Want to see more ideas for changing your environment and get more weight loss advice?  Visit the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website. Or find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Surprising Side Effect of Drinking Soda

The cheapest weight loss tool comes from the faucet. (rollingroscoe/morguefile)

You probably know that drinking high-calorie soda isn’t good for your diet.  So you may have switched to diet soda to cut calories.  Good plan, right?  Maybe not.  New research about eating and drinking habits reveals that when we drink pop we are more likely to make poor food choices.

A study published in the May issue of Appetite examined the way we make food and drink choices when we eat.  In both children and adults, they found that we are less likely to eat vegetables when we drink soda or sweetened beverages.  And not only do we avoid healthy veggies when we drink pop, but we are also more likely to choose junk foods like pizza or French fries.

It’s a simple fix, but it might have a big impact on your eating habits: drink water, especially at mealtime.  You’ll save calories, save money and train your taste buds to enjoy healthier lower-calorie foods.

Have you checked out the new Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great resource for diet, exercise and weight loss tips.  If you’re looking for more advice and support, join the Facebook page too!

Get a Better Night’s Sleep to Lose Weight

Better sleep

Create a good sleep environment. (source: kevinrosseel/morguefile)

How did you sleep last night?  If you didn’t have a restful night, your lack of sleep may be affecting your food choices today.  A recent study found that when people are sleep deprived they tend to eat more junk food.  This finding may help scientists explain the link between sleep loss and obesity.

Sleep More, Eat Less

It might seem too good to be true, but better night’s sleep really can help you to eat less and make better food choices.  Wellness expert Chris Freytag explains why.  She says that it’s all about recharging our human battery.

“If you’re not getting enough sleep you ‘re going to turn to calories.  Because when people are tired they start looking for food and caffeine.”

Chris provided these tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

Simple Changes for Better Sleep

  1. Reduce noise and light.  Try to make your sleep environment cool and dark.  This might mean removing the television from your bedroom.
  2. Don’t charge your cell phone by the bed.    This creates a subliminal distraction that can affect your restful night.
  3. Invest in a good mattress. Be sure that you optimize your sleep posture by investing in a good mattress.

Why not give it a try?  Get a good night’s sleep tonight and let us know how you feel in the morning.  Chime in on the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss Facebook page or post your comment below.

North Memorial Launches Healthy Weight Loss Website

Looking for weight loss tips?  Confused about starting an exercise program?  Want to put together a personalized healthy eating plan?  North Memorial has a new Healthy Weight Loss website that will help you do all of those things.

Healthy Weight Loss Program Highlights

Visit the new site to find everything you need to start an exercise and diet program.  You’ll find tips and advice for maintaining your weight with a healthy eating plan.  Highlights of the site include:

  • Healthy Diet:  Use online tools or connect with a North Memorial registered dietitian to put together an eating plan. Then use our tips to navigate social situations and other circumstances that might challenge your commitment to the plan.
  • Healthy Exercise:  If you’ve never exercised before or if you already engage in regular physical activity you’ll find the videos and tips on our site helpful.  Make sure your workout program contains the three most essential components for good health.
  • Healthy Connections.  Learn how to connect with weight loss services at North Memorial.  Join us on Facebook and Twitter to ask questions and learn more about losing weight and keeping it off.

Use Your Smartphone For Weight Loss Advice

Get weight loss advice on the go! (source:Mutlu Kurtbas/ iStockphoto)

Your best weight loss coach might be a smartphone.  A new study published in the May 28th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who used their mobile devices to access diet and exercise information were able to improve their eating and exercise habits.

Get Weight Loss Advice on the Go

You can spend unlimited amounts of money on trendy diets, personal trainers, and self help books or DVDs.  But this study suggests that real change can happen without those expensive services.  Simply having access to good advice may help you make the changes you need to make in order to lose weight.

What works for one person may not work for another, but many people carry their smart phones with them throughout the day.  If you use your phone to access a weight loss related app, social media site, or weight loss website it may serve as a helpful reminder of your weight loss goals.

Mobile Weight Loss Help From North Memorial

The North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss Program can go with you on your smartphone (or on your computer).   “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, and you’ll be able to take our weight loss tips and advice with you wherever you go.  These are great places to chime in about your diet and exercise struggles and successes. Got a question or want to share a recipe? These are great places to get the conversation started.

Get connected and reach your weight loss goals this summer!