Is gentle physical activity enough to achieve fitness when compared to more intensive activities?
The answer to this question, says Dr. Vicki Harber, head of the research team is: “Generally, low-intensity activity such as walking alone is not likely to give anybody marked health benefits compared to programs that occasionally elevate the intensity.”
This is “sad” news for me as I barely fit into my schedule the 20 to 30 minute walk about every other day that I do now, although gut instinct has been telling me I probably need to do more this, just what to do more is still in question.
These researchers said their concern is that people may think that what matters most is the total number of daily steps accumulated, and won’t pay much attention to the pace or effort invested in taking those steps. That sort of fits the description of what I am doing for exercise. I much rather take a leisurely walk and increase the time I spend walking rather than increase the pace I walk at.
Dr. Harper said the 10,000 step program is great for getting people to become more active again. We just need to increase the effectiveness of those steps. One way of doing that is to increase the speed in which we take those 10,000 steps, something like taking lots of 200 to 400 more steps quickly. She feels we got to more than light exercise and move towards the inclusion of regular “moderate” activity, which also includes occasional periods of walking at a more vigorous level. Okay…..I will try that!
Not everybody may have this same attitude, however. It seems that the 10,000 steps program has gotten millions of couch potatoes worldwide to move around and this has been a great accomplishment. To tell some they are not achieving much with the 10,000 steps program and now they must do more intensely could result in some giving up completely. Some people feel what would really make an interesting study is to see a 2-year-study in which half the previously sedentary people did the 10,000 step program (I would definitely be in this group), while the other half did a more intensive one, and see how many in each group dropped out. At this point, I cannot say whether or not I would be one that would just give up completely. It is a little bit on the chilly side today, I don’t know if I will start this new routine today or wait until warmer weather appears……We all most usually have access to some kind of a mall and I do have access to an exercise center fairly nearby, it is just that I might start this new program later……
What is the 10,000 step program?
It looks as if most health care professionals are in agreement that if we walk 10,000 paces (steps) a day our health will improve. I know I am far behind. They also agree that walking 10,000 steps per day helps control weight management followed by a well-balance diet to improve health even more.
It looks as if there is a pager-sized device we can attach to our belts or something we are wearing, called a Pedometer. While we wear this Pedometer (sort of reminds me of a pace-maker attachment) it will record the number of steps we take based on our body’s movement. That does sound interesting and easy enough. I know I could never keep track with pencil and paper. If we wear the Pedometer all day, at the end of the day, we can know approximately how many steps we have walked that day. Keep in mind though, now we must intensify each step, and don’t give up.
The goal of taking 10,000 steps in a day is a rough equivalent to the Surgeon General’s recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of activity most days of the week (which has been sort of my thinking and exercise routine, probably read this somewhere). It has been felt this should be enough to reduce risk of disease and help us to lead a longer, healthier life.
It is understood, however, that not everyone should start right out trying to get 10,000 steps a day. So instead a more comfortable, gradual approach has been presented. This is called the 20% Boost Program.
The first piece of equipment we need to purchase for the 20% Boost Program is again the “Pedometer.” I must buy one of these soon! I will pick up one of these when I go to Sears to purchase a small freezer (I just learned frozen fruits and vegetables are healthier than the so-called “fresh fruits and vegetables” on the grocery shelf.) For this, I have to purchase a small freezer to be able to store the variety I need. This will be the perfect time to look for a Pedometer. No doubt Sears will have one in stock.
Part II of this article will contain a summary of the 20% Boost Program.