I have to be honest, but few things annoy me more than those step-counter bracelets that remind me of how little activity I’ve done for the day.
The number 212 is flashing back at me, and it’s already past midday. I know I’ve been lazy today, pedometer. I know I should have gone to the gym this morning.
I already feel terrible; I don’t need a gadget to rub it in my face. Even my pet dog thinks I’m part of the furniture now, not even bothering to look up when I enter the room.
The last thing I need is a know-it-all glorified watch to tell me how many steps I should take throughout the day.
Well, at least that’s what I thought before I read the latest research out of The George Institute for Global Health. And for the record, fellow couch potatoes, it’s not good.
It found that when sedentary people increased their daily steps, they also reduced their risk of ending up in an early grave.
People who increased their daily steps from 1,000 to 10,000 steps per day can lower their chances of dying prematurely by a whopping 46 per cent, the research found, reinstating just how bad a sedentary lifestyle really is.
Three thousand inactive men and women around the age of 58 from across the country took part in the study, which was the first of its kind in that researchers were able to make a direct link between steps recorded from a pedometer and the direct effects those numbers had on one’s health.
“The participants were given pedometers, and data was collected at the beginning and again approximately five years later during the trial to measure the number of steps they took each day,” Professor Terry Dwyer said.
If the thought of taking 10,000 steps a day, five days a week, sounds daunting, you can thank the Japanese for that. They came up with the idea in the ’60s, when local researchers determined that many steps per day would lead to burning about 20 per cent of our daily calories.
Now health orgnisations around the world, including the National Heart Foundation of Australia, recommend people take 10,000 steps per day to improve health and vitality.
And the pedometers are working, with studies proving that yes, those daily reminders actually can increase people’s daily physical activity more than ever.
“Much to my surprise, these little devices were shown to increase physical activity by just over 2,000 steps per day,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior research scientist from Stanford University School of Medicine.
“This goes a long way toward helping people meet the national guidelines for daily physical activity.”
In her studies, Bravata found that pedometer users in one set of trials increased their daily steps by 2,491 steps more than participants without them.
So not only are the devices helping people lose weight, but they are encouraging them to take note of their daily activity, which inspires them to move more often. It looks like I might have to give my glorified watch another chance.
Only 9,788 steps to go.