Do you know how much physical activity you participate in over a week?
What does the rest of your day look like beyond your structured workout?
Are you actually NOT that physically active over the duration of the day?
Measuring incidental physical activity or how active your daily life is can be a surprising snapshot of truly how physically active you are! Current research is supporting not only structured workouts but also just moving more throughout the day. This is essential to our health and wellbeing. If all you do is 30 minutes on the treadmill and sit the rest of the day, you are actually not as physically active as you can be! Your body benefits from continuous daily movement for even 5-10 minutes at a time and it can be as simple as grabbing a good pair of shoes and getting up to walk.
But how do you know how physically active your day really is?
Daily physical activity can be monitored in various ways. The most simplistic way is to log your daily activities and determine the duration of time that is active and passive (e.g., walking to the bus stop versus sitting at your desk). In truth though, who has time to really put the pen to paper.
More realistically, a pedometer might be just the answer to this laborious task!
Pedometers, first invented by Leonardo Di Vinci in the 16th century to accurately measure the number of steps taken by human or horse, are small devices that measure your daily steps. Pedometers are motion sensors that detect vertical movements such as acceleration and declaration of the body.
Pedometer technology has advanced significantly over the past 10 years and the flimsy ones of the past are no longer the only option. Many pedometers are still mechanical that use a lever arm with a pendulum (e.g., YAMAX digiwalker) . This pendulum is displaced with each vertical acceleration of the body. The output is a quantitative value, which is equal to the number of movements of the pendulum and thus, the number of steps taken.
Newer technology, such as electronic pedometers (e.g., Omron) use accelerometer technology where electrical sensors interact with one another when a step is detected. Dual-axis sensors only react when a movement is accelerated to a certain level. For example, shaking a mechanical pedometer often registers a step as opposed to an electronic pedometer would recognize the shaking is not a true step.
So what do I do will all these daily step values?
Consider tracking your steps for a week and calculating a daily average. If you are between 3,000-5,000 steps per day, you are close to the Canadian average. Research suggests that more than 10,000 steps per day will provide health benefits over the long term. But even increasing daily step counts by as little as 2,000 steps is showing positive health changes.
Interested in more?
The University of Alberta's Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, UWALK program, is leading the way for Albertans to move more. They aim to help Albertans find their stride and support them moving forward. This free program offers a platform to log your steps, participate in challenges, and even borrow pedometers from the Edmonton Public Library. Free resources are also available on the website for you to download such as tracking sheets for steps and number of flights of stairs taken per day, but also resources to help support workplace initiatives for becoming more physically active. These include personalisable posters for workplaces, groups and/or community. Interactive and locally based, UWALK is a perfect platform to see how physically active you really are!
Physically active individuals are those who move over the course of the day. Pedometers are useful tools to help monitor how physically active you are day to day. Consider picking one up and using the UWALK program to take you to the next step of your physically active lifestyle!
Lisa A. Workman M.A., B.P.E., CSEP-CEP, AFLCA Trainer