You don’t have to hit the gym to get in shape or lose weight. Just get your 10,000 steps into your daily routine.
Walking an extra 2,000 steps a day will keep you from gaining pounds, but research has shown 10,000 daily steps can be as beneficial as a formal exercise program for losing weight. Do you have any idea how many steps you take in a day? Most of us have no clue, but there's good reason to find out.
Of course, it would be mighty distracting to go around counting your steps all day long. ("Wait, was I on 842 or 843?") That's where a pedometer—a small device that you clip onto your waistband—comes in handy.
To use a pedometer, you first measure your average stride length and program it into the instrument, which then registers every step you take by ticking off each time your hip moves. For most people, a mile of walking is equivalent to 2,000 to 2,500 steps. So ten thousand steps roughly equal around four to five miles, depending on your particular stride.
Wearing a pedometer doesn't just make you aware of how many steps you're taking. It can also inspire you to become more active. You get credit for every step you take—to your boss's office, to the ATM, around the supermarket and through the playground. Even the few steps you take from the living room to the kitchen contribute to your daily total. As the numbers mount, you may find yourself hopping off the bus a stop or two early or parking at the far end of the lot just to rack up some extra steps.
Almost all pedometers are quite reliable, even the inexpensive models, so purchasing one doesn’t have to break the bank. If you want to spend a little more, some models also estimate the number of calories you burn. Unfortunately, the calorie burn information won't be especially accurate, since there are so many factors involved that the gizmo can't account for. Still, for a rough idea of what you're burning, a pedometer can be a useful and motivating tool.