In case you missed it: Walking & Tracking Steps: Myths vs Facts part 1

4. Myth: 10,000 steps per day is impossible if you have a desk job. Why even bother?

Fact: While 10,000 steps per day is difficult (and takes some time) with a desk job, it is not impossible if you chunk it down. When struggling to follow through on something there are two places to look: motivation (why) and strategy (how). Both are essential because minimal effort on a brilliant plan, and massive effort on a stupid plan will both leave you exactly where you started. 

Why it’s worth it: Getting a little bit more movement (NEAT) throughout your day increases productivity at work, and improves appetite control. NEAT is actually one of the biggest components of your metabolism. Muscle mass aside, what you are really seeing in someone with a “fast metabolism” is high levels of NEAT: fidgeting, pacing, gesturing, etc. Because women are smaller, and burn fewer calories at rest, getting your NEAT up is going to be essential to both weight loss and maintenance. 

How: The most important thing to remember is that getting to 10,000 steps is a process not an event. When you try to eat an elephant whole you choke.  

Step #1 is getting a baseline of where you are now be wearing your device consistently.  

Step #2 is to add 10-20% to your total every week or two. Try to seek ways to add this to your normal routine (lifestyle) vs. adding gym appointments to walk on the treadmill. The reason for this is that extra appointments put extra stress on your schedule and are the first thing to go when a “life event” happens. Finding ways to add 50 steps here, 100 there, and 200 over there stays with you when the stress hits the fan. 

Step #3 is to repeat until you hit 10,000 on average. 

The specifics of how you’ll make this work are specific to you, but you will find two things: (1) it will be lots of little things vs. one big thing, and (2) you will fail to hit your goal sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you’re failing just that you have an opportunity to learn. Here are some ideas: park farther away, dance with your kids or grandkids, figure out the long way to go to the bathroom, turn on the hourly reminder, walk instead of driving on at least one errand per day or week, get a dog/walk your dog an extra 2 min, use a bathroom on a different floor, take the stairs, do more house work and/or yard work, walk to your friends house, stand up for your phone calls, have stand up meetings (these always take less time too), etc.  

None of these things done one time will make a difference, but any of these things done repeatedly will. 

 5. Myth: I get 800 extra calories for 9,000 steps

Fact: No. Use your activity tracker to develop awareness of how much you move (need to move), but not for the calorie count. Activity trackers and cardio machines can overestimate by 40% or more. This can keep you from making any weight loss progress, and/or lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise. You will be most successful by having a single calorie goal number and ignoring the “exercise calories” you get from your activity tracker. 

 6. Myth: If it’s not a step it doesn’t/shouldn’t count.

Fact: The real benefit of tracking your activity is to quantify and manage your NEAT. All movement is good, and, as I mentioned earlier the actual difference between folks with a “fast” or “slow” metabolism is their levels of NEAT. NEAT includes fidgeting, aggressive vacuuming, spontaneous dancing, etc. Washing dishes while standing will have you burning at least twice as many calories per minute as sitting, and provides a small stimulus for your cardiovascular system over sitting. While washing dishes isn’t walking, it is movement, and all movement is good for you. Most of your NEAT will not be walking long distances in a straight line.  

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