Move 10,000 steps a day for your health

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I’ve just arrived home after being in Europe for two weeks in Belgrade and Paris. The trip was fantastic. Despite the painful weak rand my biggest observation was that our European friends move a great deal more than the average middle class South African. They walk a lot! Like little ants. Missioning here and missioning there.

Middle class SA has to make a special effort to move more. Especially if you have a desk job. This applies  even if you go to gym daily. We drive way too much.

Here is the tough part you need to hear.

It’s essential to your health regime that you ideally achieve 10,000 steps a day.

That is roughly an hour’s walking a day as a simple guideline. Do you even know how much you move a day? You may just be shocked. Today we are going to help you start fixing that.

Fact is that even if you go to the gym for 1 hour a day, 7 days a week… If you sit on your bum behind a computer, in the car, at a table, on the couch, or in your bed for the remaining 23 hours of your day then you are STILL sedentary.

I would guess that the typical Sleekgeek is a person who drives EVERYWHERE. Is this you?

While overseas I used my Jawbone UP3 activity tracker and walking my target 10,000 steps in a day was effortless. Many days I got closer to 15 or 20,000. Yes I was on holiday and had some time but I was clocking up impressive mileage. Now that I’m back home I’m back to having to make a daily concerted effort.

Why is this important to you? Moving more throughout the day is one of the easiest and most reliable ways of dramatically improving your health.

Why don’t we walk more as South Africans?

I asked on the main Sleekgeek Group for possible reasons and the key themes seem to be:

  • Crime & safety – People are too scared to walk in many places in SA
  • Lack of formal public transport networks as an alternative to driving
  • The way our cities are laid out the distances between things are too great

Read the many detailed responses from our members yourself here if you are interested. 

I grew up in JHB and it’s probably the hardest place to get walking for all these reasons mentioned. Cape Town, KZN and the Eastern Cape are possibly better.

Why bother to get your 10,000 steps in?  

According to Mark Sisson, some of the reasons you should be walking more this year include:

  • It keeps your buttocks engaged with the world, because excessive sitting causes glute inactivation and atrophy which brings about back pain, instability, and reduces strength.
  • It helps reduce body fat.
  • It improves glycemic control, meaning you will have better blood glucose control and more stable insulin levels after eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich meals.
  • It improves triglyceride levels and lowers blood pressure.
  • It’s well tolerated by people with arthritis and many other health conditions who might not otherwise be able to exercise. Remember a little bit of something is still better than nothing.
  • It’s good for your brain, (cognition, memory, academic performance, creativity, and logic tests.
  • It reduces stress.
  • It boosts immune function.
  • It prevents falls in the elderly.
  • It gives you a chance to think.
  • It can be a kind of meditation.

Preliminary pedometer indices for public health have established that:

  • Those who take 5,000 steps a day or less are considered sedentary and at a higher risk for obesity, disease, and early death.
  • Those who take 10,000 steps a day or more are considered active and typically have less body fat and better overall health.

How to get your 10,000 steps?

I’ve worked out very roughly (depends on your stride etc) that 10,000 steps is an hour walking a day. Your first thought is “where the heck do I find another hour?” – that was my first thought. Then I put my “solutions” hat on and realised that could be 3 x 20mins or 4 x 15 mins, even 6 x 10mins. That’s much more doable right?

I easily can afford to take 4 x 15mins walks during the day. Instead of sitting around for 15 mins. When you take breaks during the day WALK! Literally walk 5 or 10mins in a direction and walk back. That simple.

Those minutes will add up and you’ll hit your 10,000 with ease.

Start to be conscious of your daily movement. Park as far away as you can, take the steps, do whatever you can to move more! Have walking meetings at work.

Multi-task. You can use the walking time to sort through ideas in your head or plan. Or You can take the opposite approach and use it as a chance to meditate and clear your head. Or zone out to your favourite beats. I’ve started to see it as an opportunity to learn and be inspired. I download podcasts I’m interested in and listen to them while I walk. See this as precious time with yourself and it can be even more powerful than just the walk itself.

The best way to be conscious is to track your movement. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. A tracking device like my Jawbone is perfect but any smartphone has applications you can download for free to track your steps. TALK ABOUT UP APP – ADD something about team and leaderboard.

I honestly believe these device trackers do actually change behavior. It makes movement fun and a game!

Given SA’s Challenges with security and layout here are a few fantastic free and paid platforms for you to take advantage of.

 

  • parkrun (Free)  – An awesome platform for you to walk 5km on a Saturday for free in a safe environment. Sleekgeeks love the parkrun and we turn out around the country in numbers. Keep an eye on our events page to join us at parkruns on the weekend. When you sign up your free barcode remember to indicate “sleekgeek” as your club. We are the second biggest in the country.
  • Run/Walk for Life (Paid) – Perfect for walking and running during the week in a safe and secure environmen with others. They have 100 branches around the country to chose from and are a Sleekgeek Ultimate You Challenge partner. All Challengers get a free month and 35% off after joining.

Depending on the city you live in there are some safe spaces you can find where others are walking during certain peak times. The promenade is an example for Capetonians.

Even medical aids are being more proactive and promoting movement through reward because they understand the importance of it as an indicator of good health. I get Discovery Vitality points by connecting my Jawbone to the Discovery system.

At Sleekgeek our goal is to help you eat better, move more, sleep better and think better. That is why I’m going to be pushing this topic aggressively and we are proud to say that we have partnered with Jawbone  because I believe moving more is a critical foundation to your health. I will do what I can to get devices into your hands at the best possible prices.

If you eat well in reasonable portions, move your 10,000 steps daily and get sufficient sleep you are creating a solid foundation for your health.

On Monday October 5, 2015 we are launching a 30 Day Step Challenge  and a 30 day Sleep Challenge in partnership with Jawbone because with SG in your life you never need to do it alone!

Join the dedicated Facebook group for the 30 Day Step Challenge here too and join us. 

Get moving and see you there! Summer is a perfect time to create this habit while we have more daylight in a day.

Elan