Step To It: Wearing a pedometer just might make you healthier

Jill Weisenberger M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

I love it when a research study comes out reporting what I’ve been saying for years. And that happened last November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Wearing a pedometer is associated with some measures of better health, report the authors of the study.

I started wearing a pedometer sporadically before they became popular. And whenever I’m feeling a bit chunky or lazy, I clip it on and dust off my food record. (I have a research study that supports the use of food records too.) Both of these tools remind me that I have goals to eat healthfully and to keep moving. The moving part gets harder and harder as I get busier and busier with work, family and other things that tie me to my car or to my computer. But sometimes the reminder is all that I need.

After leaving it in a drawer for three or four months, I put my pedometer on a couple of weeks ago. I realized that yet again, I had let being busy trick me into thinking that I had been active. I see that many of my patients confuse being busy for being active as well. Wearing the pedometer and frequently looking at the steps accumulated forced me to circle my kitchen and dining room while waiting for the pot on the stove to boil. It would have been easier to just stand in front of the stove. It encouraged me to let the dogs in and out instead of yelling to my daughters, “Will you let Cocoa in please? Please let Nikki out.”

The authors of the JAMA article reviewed 26 published research studies that measured pedometer use among adults. It should be no surprise that the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).

So if you don’t already have one, get yourself a reliable pedometer. Good ones frequently cost between $20 and $30. If you do have one, it’s time to snap it on.

Happy walking! Or happy biking, skipping, hiking, dancing…

 

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