How many steps do you take?

Movement is an important part of our total daily energy expenditure. Simple movement, such as walking, can contribute significantly to the number of calories we burn independent of our training sessions. Few appreciate just how many steps they take each day until those steps are quantified or measured. At, we recommend that all of our Tri2Lose clients purchase and wear a pedometer. These are clients that are training for a triathlon to lose weight: they are already swimming, biking or running each day, yet we still encourage them to maintain or increase their non-exercise physical activity.

We know from the scientific literature that when people begin an exercise program they tend to compensated for that increased activity by moving less throughout the day. A pedometer can highlight these adaptations and choices. Historically, it has been recommended that Americans aim for 10,000 steps per day. Where this number comes from is not quite clear. What is clear, however, is that the higher the number the higher the activity level.

To use anecdotal evidence, I have been wearing a pedometer for the last two days. The first day involved no physical activity outside what is required to get to and from work, accomplish my work-related objectives throughout the day, move about the house, etc. The second day  was a weekend day and just about all I did was snowshoe up a mountain, go to the cafe, order take out (I walked to pick it up) and watch a DVD. The totals for the 2 days were 11,465 and 13,801 respectively. As you can see, my step count would have been tremendous had I combined my snowshoeing activities with those of my normal weekday daily living activities. This gets back to the point of “compensation”, either conscious or subconscious in terms of physical activity energy expenditure.

The point of all this is to highlight the importance of maintaining a high level of non-exercise physical activity when undergoing a weight loss program. Simple technology, like pedometers, make this possible. Similar to efficacy of food logs relative to dieting, pedometers make us acutely aware of just how much we move and help to encourage even more movement.

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