Pedometers

A growing stack of peer-reviewed medical research is strengthening links between whole-body health and even modest physical activity. Just by walking, you can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, dementia, depression and more.

In addition, walking is one of the most affordable and convenient exercises. And for senior citizens, walking provides a safe way to stay healthy.

Adding steps to your day and improving your fitness comes down to changing your behavior and being aware of your actions, explains Dr. Shannon Bredin, a behavior specialist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Kinesiology.

According to Dr. Bredin, tracking is an effective form of self-monitoring that can motivate and improve the understanding of your current behavior. But it isn't always easy to accurately quantify, especially if you want to reach the experts' recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Today, however, easy-to-use products are available and designed to do exactly that. A traditional pedometer can be clipped on to your waistband to count your steps and they come in all shapes and sizes. If you’d rather opt for a high-tech version, a free pedometer app is available for use with your smartphone. Some of the more expensive phones also estimate your calories burned and come with features such as a stopwatch and a pulse monitor.

“You don't want your goals to be too easy so that there is no satisfaction in fulfilling them, but you also can't make them so difficult that they frustrate you,” says Dr. Bredin. “The secret to setting goals is to strike a balance between achievability and creating a real challenge for yourself.”

Dr. Bredin advises that keeping track of a goal increases accountability. It is also beneficial to choose an objective measure such as the number of steps you want to take in a day, rather than a subjective goal.