Activity trackers (aka “wearables”) are the new smart phone – what used to be rare is now something many/most people can’t imagine living without. Activity trackers have the potential to be a source of constant frustration/demoralization and excess calories; as well as the potential to be extremely helpful in reaching your health, fitness and weight loss goals. Whether it helps or hurts comes down to these myths and facts:
- Myth: I workout so I don’t need steps.
Fact: Unless you are a professional or NCAA athlete your workouts can’t be enough. Our sedentary lifestyles get more so every time a new labor saving device hits the market. Working out 3 days per week is awesome(!), however 3 hours per week can’t supply all the physical activity you need. There are 168 hours in a week. 3 hours can’t offset 165 hours of being sedentary. One is not better than the other. One does not replace the other. To be healthy and fit you need both.
- Myth: I’m over 60, so walking is the only safe exercise for me.
Fact: The older you are the more important a complete and balanced exercise program is. With age appropriate strength training becomes more important. (More on how strength extends life span and quality of life here.) Walking is an important part of a healthy, active lifestyle at every age, however it does not replace strength, balance or mobility work. Neat fact: research shows that strength training, but not aerobic workouts, spontaneously increase your NEAT (a.k.a. step count). NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
- Myth: I walk 30 min a day, and that’s enough.
Fact: maybe, maybe not. 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles) a day is a great long-term goal for most people. If the other 23.5 hours of your day are fairly active, then that 30 min walk is like icing on the cake. However, if the rest of your day has you sitting in your car, sitting at your desk, and sitting at home, then the 30 min alone, while helpful, isn’t enough. Activity trackers help you quantify and track what really matters: the amount of movement your get in all 24 hours of your day (a.k.a. NEAT).
Come back next week for Part 2!
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