Monday, 19 January 2009

Counting steps - initial experiences

Although I go out walking pretty much every week and more often when possible, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I am steadily becoming less fit. A combination of my basically sedentary lifestyle and increasing age seem to be to blame.

For the new year I have resolved to aim to get out twice a week (successfully implemented so far) and to begin to use step counting to drive further improvements. The initial two weeks of step counting have been very illuminating.

All the advice is that you need to aim for 10,000 steps a day. On days when I don't go out for a walk, my default level is between 2000 and 3500, depending on what I am up to. So it is pretty obvious that a reasonably major change in behaviour (a step change!) is going to be necessary. I knew it would be bad, but I hadn't realised quite how bad.

On the other hand, 2000 steps equates to a mile walk, so simply looking for opportunities to walk rather than using the car or public transport or a daily couple of miles around the local neighbourhood will fairly easily double the default level.

With this sort of tactic, plus going on proper walks twice a week I am averaging around 9,000 steps a day so far which I quite encouraging.

I have also learned some important things about my pedometer. It has three basic flaws - which in effect reveal the critical criteria for buying a pedometer:
  • It occasionally resets to zero, presumably because the reset button comes under pressure, or is touched accidentally.
  • The count is not consistent: five mile walks have ranged between 9,000 and 11,000 steps.
  • The waist band clip is not tight enough, so it sometimes falls off.
A little belated market research has revealed that the Yamax digiwalker SW 201 is widely regarded as the most accurate on the market, and it comes with a flip case, so the reset button is covered. It also has a security cord, so it can't fall off. And best of all, all it does is count steps, it does not seek to measure distance, count calories or anything else at all. I have ordered one pronto.

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