Walking for health
February 21, 2003 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Heart surgery in our family has triggered something of a crisis of fitness with everyone vowing to loose weight. Ironically its the runner in the family that has suggested the most sensible solution: buy a pedometer and increase the number of steps per day you walk to 10,000. (Although some say to just increase.) The idea supposedly started in Japan. The idea is to add a bit of activity here and there (the first site recommends going to a restroom on a different floor) rather than trying to lump the 30 minutes per day all ot once. So far with a desk-potato lifestyle 3,000 is easy but adding the extra few miles every day will require some extra work. Less social than a Volksmarch but compatable with a mall walk. And definitely less hazardous than freestyle walking.
posted by KirkJobSluder (24 comments total)
A pedometer sounds like a device used to measure attraction to preteens.

Anyway, my advice for walking: Instead of driving around for 15 minutes looking for a parking space, go ahead and park, walk a good amount, and get to the damn building in 5 minutes.

I have endless annoyance for people who smirk at me when I park far away just because I don't feel like driving around again.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:38 PM on February 21, 2003

If you ride the bus, you probably already walk a bit, but I suggest getting off a stop or two early and walking to work from there. Good times.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:57 PM on February 21, 2003

I live on the 6th floor and unless I'm carrying something or I have company, I always take the stairs.
posted by ODiV at 9:29 PM on February 21, 2003

I'd love to be able to walk farther, but it gets dark so early and I live in the suburbs, lots of dark corners and side streets, if I'm alone I just don't feel safe. That kind of puts a damper on activity in the wintertime.

But in summer I get out as much as I can and it really does make a difference. Always in winter on my home commute I look forward to summertime, and being able to get off the bus a lot earlier.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:30 PM on February 21, 2003

I've always wondered how in the world a pedometer works. I've seen little wheelie devices at the end of sticks, of course, and think I grok that one pretty well, but I keep hearing about these ones that you just carry. Do they register the small shocks that go through your body when your legs hit the ground on each step, and you roughly calibrate to stride length? Do they use GPS info? Do they measure flux through earth's magnetic field? Is this secretly what all the homing pigeons have been turned into?
posted by namespan at 10:08 PM on February 21, 2003

Please, it's LOSE not LOOSE. It's like fingernails on a blackboard for me. Thanks.
posted by lometogo at 10:10 PM on February 21, 2003

namespan: I believe your first guess was right. I picked one up once and just shaking it incremented the distance. There seemed to be a rolling ball bearing inside that was triggering a circuit.
posted by teg at 10:31 PM on February 21, 2003

Hmm. I might consider getting a pedometer myself. I had a baby a few months ago and lost most of the weight quickly, but have hit a wall on the last few pounds. Setting myself a "10000 step" goal might help.
posted by padraigin at 10:43 PM on February 21, 2003

Does it work if we silly walk?
posted by sillygwailo at 11:22 PM on February 21, 2003

Thanks for the link, sillyg.
All you have to do is run the audio file while mousing over the top 3 rows of pictures and WHA-LAH!
John Cleese the Dancing Hamster!!

(WHA-LAH? Just trying to avoid accusations of collaborating with the French)
posted by wendell at 12:59 AM on February 22, 2003

Er, Salmonberry, what's the matter with the dark? Or sidestreets, for that matter (are they what I'd call alleyways, or are they just streets that run, er, sideways to where you're walking?)

In other words, is your fear of the dark a rational one -- ie. there are so many murders in your area that it's simply not at all safe to go outside -- or an irrational one?

If the latter... well, maybe you should go for a walk.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:15 AM on February 22, 2003

Bicycle. Best fitness machine ever.
posted by i_cola at 1:21 AM on February 22, 2003

get a segway.
posted by crunchland at 4:20 AM on February 22, 2003

Fish: As a fellow child of the suburbs, I find your encouragement of solitary side-street and nighttime walking to be reckless and deplorable. There's nothing wrong with an exaggerated sense of caution. Let somebody else become a statistic.
posted by rcade at 5:27 AM on February 22, 2003

I thought the whole point of moving to to the subburbs (well, at least as how people I know who have moved from mid-town out to the subburbs in the next county) was to get away from crime and the urban element. They complain there are too many street lights, but then when people want to go walking, there aren't enough street lights. If you're worried a car might hit you, wear some reflective tape. Carry a flashlight and an emergency personal alarm. Or petition your city/village/township to install more street lights.

You could always walk in circles inside your house if you can't go out.

I never thought about buying a pedometer before, but I think I will. This sounds like a great idea to just improve general health while not taking up a great deal extra of time.
posted by benjh at 7:57 AM on February 22, 2003

Seconds i_cola's support for the bicycle. You also get the added pleasure of pissing off stationary car drivers in urban traffic jams by whizzing past them looking smug.
posted by squealy at 8:12 AM on February 22, 2003

Volksmarches are great because sight seeing is part of the walk. They even have patches for each of the volksmarches, the people's walk, if you like to collect those kind of things.

The one in NEWPORT BEACH - BALBOA ISLAND is a great one to take a date or just something to do when folks come to town visiting Southern California.

Make sure you reward yourself at the end with an original chocolate dipped frozen banana!
posted by thomcatspike at 9:37 AM on February 22, 2003

I don't drive and the bus service is so poor on this side of Queen Anne that I walk downtown to catch a bus or buy stuff, so I do about 10+ miles a week right there. The bike is down pro tem but even when it's up, I don't use it all that often. There's the Will it still be there when I get back? factor when you park and lock--and there are, like, major atomic bolt cutters out there and pickups and vans: do I need to draw you a picture?--plus I'm less likely to become roadkill beneath an SUV. Oh, there's bike paths but it's the getting to them that's the rub. And absentminded reveries are so much safer on foot. So, I'll bet I walk at least 30 miles a week, 50 in the summer. And I still have body by Homer. *cries*
posted by y2karl at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2003

Want to improve your heart, lungs and overall health....walk.

Want to improve your physique...lift weights.
posted by SweetIceT at 11:23 AM on February 22, 2003

I know, I know... Actually I more resemble Groundskeeper Willy--I just didn't want to seem like I was bragging.
posted by y2karl at 1:15 PM on February 22, 2003

five fresh/benjh: It's not irrational to not want to walk alone at night when you're a woman. I don't live in a high crime neighbourhood, but in another low crime area south of me there is a guy attacking women who are out a night, and recently in a suburb farther out a young woman was attacked and killed walking to work alone in the dark. She screamed for help and no one helped her, so how would a flashlight and emergency alarm help me?

That's why I wait until it stays light out. And walking around in circles in my house? Niiice. But I do walk to and from the office to my bus stop downtown all year (people out on the streets there) and I usually go ice skating in winter, not quite 10,000 steps a day, but it must help!
posted by Salmonberry at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2003

Salmonberry -- I can understand where you're coming from. My neighborhood is not the best in the world, but overall it's pretty safe. Still, I'm cautious about walking early in the AM (around six is when I go) until the time changes and it's lighter in the morning. Perhaps that's unreasonable, but to me it's just erring on the side of caution. (I can't cite a source but I've read that the majority of stranger attacks occur in the hours just before dawn.)

Until it gets warmer/lighter, I don't walk in circles in the house, but I do have a small selection of exercise DVDs that I use instead. Gets the heart rate going and I don't have to go out in the cold and dark. Email me if you'd like; I'd be happy to share my favorite titles.

Also, I employ the tactic of going to the bathroom on a different floor than where my office is. if you are involved in a weight loss program and are drinking large amounts of water, this can work out to climbing five or six flights of stairs a day.
posted by jennyb at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2003

I got a pedometer last year to see just how far I walk per day. Turns out it's about 10,600 give or take, which comes to about 5 miles/8 km a day. For this former L.A. "drive a block" boy, that's pretty good.

Took it to NYC to see just how far I do walk while in town. Always wondered. On a recent trip the longest was 9 miles/14.4 km.

Then it started to get conceptual: I walked 9,656 steps from my house in DC to my hotel in Austin, TX for last year's SXSW festival. Of course, I hardly walked on the plane.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 4:50 PM on February 22, 2003

This past spring my employer gave out free pedometers to every employee who wanted one, and ran an incentive program (t-shirts, free movie tickets, etc.) to anyone who increased their steps per day to 10,000 or over.

Seemed like a pretty successful program for most people who tried it - a friend said it gave her a whole new outlook on what the word "sedentary" meant when she only logged about 2,000 steps the first day.
posted by anastasiav at 9:04 AM on February 23, 2003

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