Personally, I normally follow very simple rules when it comes to fitness and health. The gimmicks that circulate the talk shows and health magazines don’t usually equate to real results. It’s usually something unique that will pique people’s interests for a sale. The basic rules of fitness are very boring and would never sell magazines after the first week.
LIFT WEIGHTS (LEGS,PUSH, PULL).
DO CONDITIONING (AEROBIC + ANAEROBIC).
This will actually work for the rest of your life.
That being said, some people need more guidance, more direction and more help. For this reason, today I’m going to break my rule a bit and talk about one of these gimmicks/trends – Activity Trackers. For the last few years, activity trackers have been selling like hotcakes. The idea behind them is to quantify HOW MUCH regular activity we’re doing. The truth is that most of us probably don’t have a very good idea how much we’re moving and whether that is enough. Using an activity tracker will add clarity and objectivity to the movement you do every single day.
From a marketing perspective , these companies like Fitbit, Polar, Garmin and others make money if you want to track steps. Although a simple pedometer would do, these fitness trackers use technology and creative challenges to keep you entertained. When fitness trackers first came out , I was not a big fan. For me, someone who was active in the gym, most of the trackers lacked the ability to track high intensity training. However, for the general public I believe these can be a very powerful tool for living a healthier and more active life. One reason I think that these are important is because we need to follow a balanced fitness regimen. The bulk of my work generally consists of weights, sprinting and plyometrics; aerobic activity has often been ignored in my training. For the entire month of May I decided that I would walk everyday at lunch. This usually gave me 30 to 45 minutes of light aerobic work every single day. At first I didn’t think it would mean much, but the difference was substantial.
Look at my activity summaries from April (pre walking), May and June…
My steps went from 183665 in April, to 331851 in May and then to 400922 in June. I was able to more than double my steps without really taking any time out of my day. The truth is, the time I used for walking was previously just sitting around killing time during my lunch hour. Now I use my lunch hour to walk and then eat my lunch at my desk afterward.
Making more time for fitness doesn’t have to be complex or intense, sometimes just adding some walking can be all it takes. The great thing about using a fitness tracker, is that I can actually quantify the amount of activity I did on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly level. If I’m in the afternoon and my watch shows a low step count, I can get up and do a quick walk around to get more. Don’t feel like you’re stuck to your desk, your employer would probably prefer you energized and not falling asleep at your computer anyway.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH
You’ve probably heard of the famed, ‘10,000 steps’, that you should be trying to achieve each day. This is a number that researchers came up with that correlated with healthy active living. According to this paper [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17716553], most people’s daily routines leave them about 4000 steps short. This means that every person should be actively trying to add another 4000 steps or equivalent in added activities. Obviously there will be some people out there who are laborers or maybe walk all day as part of their job, but the majority out there are sitting for the majority of their work time. Sitting is not going to help you get steps/activity. Although some people scoff at step counts, researchers believe it’s an accurate indicator of physical activity.
“The accumulated evidence herein provides ample support that the simple and inexpensive pedometer is a valid option for assessing physical activity in research and practice.” [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12238942 ]
So not only are the amount of steps you get each day a general indicator of activity level, but this review has put numbers in place to identify those levels.
“Based on currently available evidence, we propose the following preliminary indices be used to classify pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults: (i). <5000 steps/day may be used as a ‘sedentary lifestyle index’; (ii). 5000-7499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered ‘low active’; (iii). 7500-9999 likely includes some volitional activities (and/or elevated occupational activity demands) and might be considered ‘somewhat active’; and (iv). >or=10000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as ‘active’. Individuals who take >12500 steps/day are likely to be classified as ‘highly active’.” [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14715035]
I think it’s becoming obvious that we need to incorporate more walking into our daily lives. Read on to figure out the most effective way to do so.
MAKING THE BEST OF IT
We all have different goals, but I’m going to lump the readers into two categories for simplicity. These categories will help you plan your walks to fit with your goals.
YOU TRAIN TO LOSE BODY FAT
If your goals are based around losing body fat (or “weight”), then getting 10k steps per day will really help. The thing to remember though, you need your exercise and diet to work synergistically together. Getting extra steps won’t matter if you just had a bowl of ice cream or a pizza. The most effective way to incorporate more steps into your day would be to add FASTED walks. Combining intermittent fasting with walking creates a good fat burning environment for your body.
“Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body,” says Dr. Horne. “This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes.” [ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110403090259.htm ]
Fasting by itself will force you to use fat for fuel, so if you add walking and need even MORE energy, you’ll be forced to use MORE fat. It’s that simple.
I personally try to fast until about 1pm, getting a walk or light workout in just before that or first thing in the morning.
YOU TRAIN INTENSELY FOR STRENGTH/SIZE/MUSCLE
Doing fasted walks will be beneficial for you as well, especially if staying lean is important to you. However, depending on your training, you may want to focus on longer walks on recovery days. This will help increase blood flow and aid recovery, especially from lower body training.
If you decide to walk on lifting days, I prefer lighter aerobic work after high intensity work for a few reasons. First off, you want to make sure your nervous system and glycogen stores are fresh and ready to roll to maximize performance. Secondly, if you walk enough, or up a hill, you could fatigue your legs enough to alter your performance. This may not seem like much, but every little bit can help.
No matter what results you’re looking for in the gym, increasing the amount of steps you get each day will help almost anyone. Do yourself a favour and start adding it to your daily routine.