10,000 Steps Worth Counting?
There is a slight obsession at the moment with the idea of walking your way to weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out a few years ago with the recommendation of walking 10,000 steps per day, and since then countless government and health organizations have jumped on that idea and market programs that can help you achieve doing just that.
The thing is, if you were to set out for a walk after work in the evening to capture all 10,000 steps at once, then you’d have to walk about 5 miles. This is a bit of an undertaking, and not necessarily the ideal workout goal if you are just getting started, or if you are still recovering from weight loss surgery.
Pros and Cons of Fitness Trackers
This is where fitness trackers became so popular. With a fitness tracker you don’t have to log how far you are walking daily to ensure you’ve done enough steps. The watch captures that information for you. This means that every step you take can count towards that goal—the steps at the office, the steps in the parking lot as you are running errands, and of course the steps you take when you are actually working out.
But do fitness trackers actually help with weight loss? These devices are marketed as a great weight loss support tool, but there is some evidence that questions the validity of this claim. In one recent study, participants who used a fitness tracker were less successful with their weight loss efforts than were those who followed an identical weight loss plan, but tracked their calories manually instead. The reason given for this difference is the level of accountability necessary in each type of tracking style.
When you track your calories and exercise efforts manually you have to be intensely aware of your food and activity choices. After every meal and after every workout attempt, you need to take the time to note down what you did or didn’t do, and this process of logging your foods and activity can keep you really focused on your weight loss goal.
On the other hand, activity trackers take a lot of that work off your plate. Your steps are counted all day long, and instead of logging your meals in a notebook that you keep in your purse or pocket, now you need to go on your phone or on the computer to input your daily totals. While e-tracking can absolutely help with your weight loss goals, having to take that extra step could present a barrier to some and thereby reduce the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts.
After weight loss surgery, it is a great idea to take advantage of any tool that you find helpful, but make sure you are using it in a way that will keep you focused and accountable. Watch your daily step totals and challenge yourself to be more active with each passing day.