Getting movement ingrained as one of your habits in the everyday things we do is the most achievable way to get moving more. Being more active requires a deliberate effort, walking or cycling instead of using the car. Commuting to work on the bike or walking the kids to school are simple everyday changes we can make to be more active.
How active are you?
In order to make changes in your daily activity level, it helps to know how active you are now, it’s possible to ascertain a broad range from a few simple questions and you can measure yourself by counting your steps.
Counting steps arguably is not the most scientific method of assessing activity levels however it is a pretty good guide and can highlight, active days and times and enable you to make conscious changes based on real-time activity information.
We are motivated by things we can achieve and reaching goals, especially a self-set goal. It’s intrinsically motivating and this makes it much more likely that we will achieve our goals, target or whatever we have set ourselves.
How active do you need to be and how many steps?
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking to increase activity levels, you should start by seeing what you are already doing. You need a baseline to start from or it will be difficult to choose an achievable goal for your step target.
Once you have a weeks worth of steps, you’ll be able to see an average, you’ll want to increase this by a decent amount, doing as much as you can to increase your daily activity level and daily step count.
So to get started you’re going to need a way of tracking your steps. This can be achieved via a dedicated activity tracker such as a Fitbit, basic pedometer or a smartphone.
You should purchase the one that’s going to suit both your needs and how you use technology. If you prefer the old school pen and paper then just buy a simple [amazon_textlink asin=’B0177OLRNU’ text=’Pedometer ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’danieljeal-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’ddfa44b6-9734-11e8-a78f-ed627de88326′] and write down your steps each day.
The following is a general guide you can match to your current daily step count.
- Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index”
- 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.” The average American walks 5900 to 6900 steps per day, so the majority are “low active.”
- 7,500-9,999 steps/day likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered “somewhat active.”
- 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active”.
- Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active”.
Data from How Many Pedometer Steps Per Day are Enough? via About.com
Tracking your daily steps will help you evaluate your daily, fitness and monthly activity levels and trends. If you have an activity tracker it will likely automatically track your steps online, If you are using a standard pedometer, you also have the option of manually tracking online or just good old pen and paper.
- Old School Pen & Paper – Download Pedometer Tracking Sheet
- Use your smartphone
- Use a fitness tracker like Apple Watch or Fitbit.
I would argue that 10,000 steps should be a minimum and more is good however being more active isn’t just about steps, of course, cycling, swimming and other exercise are also a factor when raising our activity levels.
Take a step back and assess your current activity levels and look for opportunities using the tips above and see where you can make headway in increasing your steps and using more methods of active travel
6 Simple lifestyle changes to get you moving more
- Taking the Stairs
If your workplace is not on the ground floor and you need to take an elevator, allow some extra time and take the stairs, you’ll be amazed what a difference this can make.
Read ‘Stairway to health’
- Walking or Cycling to Work
Many of us make journeys every day that we could easily walk or cycle, an active commute requires extra effort and planning and it’s easy to see why we just jump in the car.
Changing travel habits we’ve had for years won’t be easy, and it will be harder in the winter. The key is to plan, set your cycling gear out the night before, set the alarm a little earlier. The issue with this one is there isn’t much incentive to adhere to it, it’s slowly, it’s harder, it takes planning etc, etc. Being reflective will help, you’ll be having a positive effect on your environment, contributing to a more pleasant environment with one less car on the road. Keep this up all year and your carbon footprint just fell off a cliff.
- Parking Further Away
Real simple, going shopping or the cinema or wherever, park further away, some great benefits with this tip. You’ll get a parking space and you’ll walk more. Win, win.
Read (Can Parking your car make you healthier)
- Walking or Cycling with the kids on the school run
Another key lifestyle habit that many of us can do yet choose not too, the average school run is just 1.5 miles. This is an achievable distance to walk, cycle or scooter and I’m sure you’ll agree, getting kids active from an early age is very important.
- Walking or Cycling to the shops or cafe
We’re all guilty of jumping in the car when we pop into town? In most cases, we aren’t picking up a new wardrobe and taking the bike or walking is possible. If you think about it, it will save you money as you’ll only buy what you can carry.
- Longer dog walks
Add an extra 10 minutes to your dog walk, that’s an extra 20-30 minutes a day and a good 3 hours a week of extra activity, it all adds up and makes a difference.